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There’s been a lot of conflicting advice on how to safely handle your food during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Here is what the research says.

How Is COVID-19 Spread?

Coronavirus is not known to be spread by food or packaging, according to the Food and Drug Administration and Food Manufacturer’s Institute. The Center for Disease Control says COVID-19 is mainly spread from person to person.

• Between people in close contact (within 6 feet).

• Through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

These droplets may land in the mouths or noses of nearby people or are possibly inhaled into the lungs.

It may be possible to get COVID-19 by touching something with the virus on it and then touching your mouth, nose or possibly eyes. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

How Long does COVID-19 Last?

A recent study by the National Institute of Health indicated how long coronavirus was detectable.

• Air — 3 hours

• Copper – 4 hours

• Cardboard – 24 hours

• Plastic/Stainless Steel – 2-3 days

How to Handle Groceries

There are potentially dangerous recommendations about how to handle groceries out there. Here are research-based guidelines for at the store and home.

Store

• Stay home if sick: If you have any symptoms of coronavirus or are caring for someone who is sick, stay home. Ask a friend to go shopping for you or order online.

• Buy only what you need: There’s no need to stockpile food; only purchase enough for a week or two.

• Keep a safe distance: Go when there are fewer people and keep six feet away.

• Sanitize shopping carts: Wipe down the handles of the cart before using it.

• Sanitize hands after paying: Methods of paying for groceries get touched by a lot of people. Although this area is being cleaned more often, sanitize hands after paying.

• Minimize objects brought into stores: Only bring essential items into the store (like card, shopping list, keys). Sanitize afterward.

Home:

• Wash hands properly: Once home, wash hands immediately and anytime you touch something that may have coronavirus on it. Use soap and warm water, scrub for 20 seconds, rinse and dry with a clean towel.

• Clean and sanitize touchpoints: Frequently clean and sanitize places people often touch.

• Wash reusable grocery bags: Use soap and water or the washing machine to wash reusable grocery bags between uses.

• Wipe food packages? If it makes you feel safer, wipe down food packages. Keep the cleaner from coming in contact with food. (It can make you sick if ingested.)

• Wash produce: Wash hands before/after handling fresh produce. Don’t use soap, detergent, or bleach. They are not meant for food and will make you sick. Fruits/vegetables are porous and absorb chemicals used to clean. Gently rub while rinsing with cool running water. Use a clean brush to scrub firm produce. Dry with a clean paper towel or cloth.

• Clean and disinfect kitchen: Regularly clean and disinfect countertops and surfaces in kitchen and dining area.

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