Doctors: Clean Your Groceries to Limit Coronavirus Exposure


CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) — With cases of COVID-19 increasing, shoppers and employees are taking extra precautions when it comes to buying groceries.

“So with coronavirus right now, it is important that we do, that we are aware that coronavirus can live on surfaces,” said Dr. Shayla Toombs-Withers, owner of the Essence of Health Wellness Clinic. “We should be washing our groceries, we should at least be looking out for the mail we open, and we should make sure that we really are washing our hands.”

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Dr. Toombs-Withers says the coronavirus can live on surfaces for longer than we would expect.

“Surfaces like cardboard, so those packages that we are getting from Amazon, it can live on those surfaces for about 24 hours,” she said. “Even on plastic surfaces, stainless steel like your counter tops, it can live for up to two or three days even on those things. So it’s really important that we are mindful of this, and that this virus can still be present even though you don’t physically see it.”

But some think this extra washing step is unnecessary.

“If you think about it, if everyone is doing what they are supposed to, the people that are handling those groceries should already be cleaning them anyway, and taking extra precautions to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

From grocery to table, Toombs-Withers says it’s best to wash produce, and even containers with warm water and soap.

“Definitely want to clean the top with that soap and warm water cause that’s where you’re going to be handling it to open your bottle up,” she said. “Then just clean down the sides of it, as we do with our hands 20 seconds if preferable, to make sure we are actually killing any potential contaminants.”

Toombs-Withers says you should also minimize the time spent at the store by planning ahead, and only touching the items that you’ll be taking home.

“If you have to go out and have to get those groceries, they do want to make sure that they are washing their hands. They don’t want to eat anything on their way home right when picking it up. They want to make sure that they are washing their hands after touching those surfaces.”

Toombs-Withers says these are just a few extra ways to keep both people and food safe.