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Coronavirus home hygiene: do I really need to disinfect my supermarket groceries when I get home?

Posted by
Megan Murray
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As experts discuss the need to wash fresh produce from supermarkets to protect ourselves from coronavirus, we look at what hygienic measures you really need to take in the pandemic.

The coronavirus pandemic is gripping not only the UK but the entire globe as nearly two and a half a million-people are recorded to have been infected with the virus, and 170,000 have lost their lives. The rising death toll is devastating and along with the announcement that lockdown will continue, the country is focused on doing everything possible to stop the spread.

Although we’re well aware of the importance of carrying hand sanitiser, washing our hands thoroughly and not touching our faces, there’s some confusion out there as to what other measures we should be taking to cut down on risk.

Experts have discussed how we can prevent the spread of the virus via things that are handled by multiple people, like food from the supermarket (considering this is the only place many of us are venturing out to). Here’s the advice we’ve gathered so far…

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Do I need to wash fresh produce from supermarkets?

The government says it’s “very unlikely” that people will catch coronavirus from food, stating that food businesses must ensure that they have the correct food hygiene and food safety processes in place to protect their customers.

But considering we know the virus can live on hard surfaces and that fresh produce may be handled by other customers, there’s absolutely no harm in washing fruit and vegetables to rid them of potential infection just like we would our hands.

Remember to wash fresh produce before you use it.

Rob Hodson, registered nutritionist, consultant and author, explains to Stylist.co.uk: “It appears that every surface is a hazard when it comes to Covid-19 and fruits and vegetables are probably no exception given they are frequently picked up and put back down again by shoppers.”

“I would say that it is probably very prudent to wash your fruit and veg after you get it home,” he adds.

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Can food packaging carry coronavirus?

The government’s official line on this is that coronavirus is not known to be carried by food packaging, and that the risks associated with food packaging is “very low”.

Food goods being imported into the UK from affected areas should also be low risk because the law requires the exporter to follow the right controls during the packing and shipping process. 

The government doesn’t recommend you wash food packaging once you’ve bought it, unless you believe it has been contaminated. But you should continue to wash your hands when you get back from the supermarket, and after handling said packaging. 

Washing hands before and after cleaning is crucial.

How do I properly clean and disinfect to stop the spread of coronavirus?

There’s lots of advice on gov.co.uk on cleaning non-healthcare environments, such as your home, to stop the spread of coronavirus. This could be if someone has been in your home that you think may have or be carrying the virus, or if you’re cleaning an object you’re bringing into your home.

First clean hard surfaces with hot, soapy water with a disposable cloth, before then disinfecting the area with a normal household disinfectant. Make sure you wear disposable gloves and aprons as you clean. Once you’re finished with them, double bag them and keep secure for 72 hours, before throwing away in the regular rubbish. Wash hands regularly with soap and water for 20 seconds, and after removing gloves, aprons and other protection used while cleaning.

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Megan Murray

Megan Murray is a digital journalist for stylist.co.uk, who enjoys writing about London happenings, beautiful places, delicious morsels and generally spreading sparkle wherever she can.

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