Should You Wash Your Groceries? A List Of COVID-19 Shopping Guidelines Has Been Issued

The guidelines include advice on measures to take before, during and after shopping and signs whether your supermarket is doing enough to ensure as safe a shopping experience as possible.

Health bodies in Ireland and the UK have collaborated on guidelines for safe shopping practices during the COVID-19 virus outbreak. 

The Irish Global Health Network, in partnership with the Environmental Health Association of Ireland and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health in the UK, have come together to issue a list of safety-led instructions for the general public when it comes to public grocery shopping. 

This follows a series of ambiguous guidelines resulting in a “lack of consistent hygiene standards” in supermarkets across Ireland and the United Kingdom. 

The official list details measures to take before, during and after shopping as well as signs whether your supermarket is doing enough to ensure as safe a shopping experience as possible.

These include washing your hands immediately when you return home, designating a cleared, disinfected area to sort out your shopping and wiping shelving with sanitiser and a paper towel, then discarding. 

It also includes a number of protocols to help the public protect themselves, including:

  • Maintaining a safe social distance of two metres from all other shoppers and staff
  • Using the non-dominant hand to pick up goods, which subsequently reduces the cross-contamination risk from touching of the mouth, nose or eyes
  • Sanitisation of shopping trolleys, baskets, pin pads and other regularly touched items after each use due to the capacity of the virus to live on surfaces

Supermarkets have been urged to continue to enforce existing procedures such as social distancing and trolly disinfecting to enable shoppers to protect themselves and the frontline staff who are most at risk.

The Irish Global Health Network also urged customers and staff to remain vigilant, saying that the lack of clear controls on numbers of people entering premises, the exposure of baked goods and fresh produce and the lack of facilities for handwashing are posing a “severe” threat to shoppers.

The safe shopping guidelines are available to read in full here.

As for sanitising the produce you buy, Josie Greve-Peterson, a PSSI corporate microbiologist, told the Huffington Post that there isn't much need

"The U.S. Department of Agriculture does not currently have any reports of human illnesses that suggest COVID-19 can be transmitted via food or food packaging.

“However, it is always important to follow good hygiene practices — i.e., wash hands and surfaces often, separate raw meat from other foods, cook to the right temperature, and refrigerate foods promptly ― when handling or preparing foods,” she said.

Main image by @annelauremais

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