Staying Home? Need to Stock Up? Safe Handling of Groceries During COVID-19 Pandemic Can Prevent Food Poisoning.
Without exception, experts are advising Americans to stay home. In order to save lives, lesson chance of further impact on front-liners and to stop the spread of COVID-19, we are asked to hunker down. In previous weeks, before the COVID-19 pandemic became, well, a pandemic, we disbelievingly watched as the world slowly started to close for business. It started with employees being asked to work remote. Restaurants and bars started to reduce hours and then started closing their doors. Parks began to look like crime scenes, surrounded by yellow tape. Public, communal recreation of all types ceased to be “legal.” And yet, through it all, many people were not willing to borrow troubles. They either didn’t take warnings seriously or did not stock up the pantry in preparation for life’s new reality.
This reality means that many grocery stores are still as busy as ever – not optimal in a pandemic.
Most stores, with guidance from health officials, are attempting to make the handling of groceries as safe as possible. And, the shopping experience itself. This is an especially sensitive situation with the death of two Wal-Mart employees this last week.
Each establishment is using different tools. Some food markets are limiting the number of shoppers allowed in at a given time, and for those not implementing this, where long lines form, tape on the floor reminds shoppers to stand 6 feet apart. Many shops have banned the use of personal shopping bags and so for places where there are usually paper bag fees, these are waived. And for consumers who didn’t think to bring a disinfectant to wipe down your grocery cart, the retailers most likely will have that covered with wipes readily available or some other form of disinfection process on all carts or baskets.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a wealth of information on how to stay safe if consumers must go grocery shopping. The guidelines include wearing a protective face cover, staying a good distance from other shoppers, and of course washing hands. It is believed that the COVID virus can survive on card board and plastic for a one to several days. As such, it is recommended that shoppers empty grocery bags, immediately remove these and other packaging from their homes, disinfect counters and other contact spots, and finish by thoroughly washing hands.
In addition, produce should be washed thoroughly, all of the time, as a part of safe food handling, but particularly now – experts are encouraging a ramp in the cleaning of fresh foods purchased from a grocer. And, as it is as important to keep others safe in the event a person is carrying the virus and unaware to practice good respiratory hygiene. Just as with a cold or other contagious illness, shoppers should cough into their elbow, and/or use tissues to capture coughs and sneezes. Better yet, stay home and ask a neighbor to assist or have groceries delivered if not feeling well.
According to the national food poisoning lawyers at Ron Simon & Associates, “these practices are good to practice year in and year out. But they are especially good to practice now, with the Covid-19 pandemic at its apex. We live in a world with bacteria and viruses and good hygiene and safe food handling need to be a part of our daily lives.”
Each time a new crisis emerges and dominates the nightly news and headlines, humans process the information in different ways. A doomsayer will likely heed the warnings and hoard staples ahead of everyone else. A Pollyanna might start posting inspirational quotes to cheer up the worriers. Everyone else will take their own temperature (figuratively and literally), and that of their family and community, in deciding how to proceed. Perhaps it’s buying some extra essentials like toilet paper (before it is all sold out,) and canceling social outings, but still going for bike rides with the family and making a run to the store for ingredients to make that special comfort food. Wherever each person lands, safety must be the common ground. Especially now, with an unprecedented health crisis on our hands, we need to take care of each other. Even during the simple, and once benign activity, of grocery shopping.