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The Surprising Truth About Sanitizing Your Groceries

The Surprising Truth About Sanitizing Your Groceries
Published - 04/08/2020 9:31 pm

At no other time in recent history have groceries dominated so many headlines. Major media outlets are talking about everything from grocery shortages to grocery delivery to grocery workers and how to shop for groceries safely.

What about when you get those groceries home though? The opinions on whether or not you should sanitize your groceries are somewhat mixed, even among health experts. One video made by physician Dr. Jeffrey VanWingen that advised washing fruits and vegetables with soapy water, took the internet by storm and racked up millions of views. Benjamin Chapman, a professor and food safety specialist, saw things differently, though, and said that the risk of an upset stomach from ingesting soap wasn’t worth it and advised against VanWingen’s recommendation.

“For me, I’m not treating my produce any differently than I would be if I was worried about food safety in produce before.”

VanWingen also advised that people keep their groceries in the garage for several days in case the virus was on the packaging. Chapman also disagreed with this. He explained:

“We don’t have any evidence that food or food packaging are transmission vehicles for coronavirus.”

But wait just a second…The National Institutes of Health says on their website that because SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can live on cardboard for up to 24 hours, that people could contract it through touching, quote, “contaminated objects.” You also might be wondering, “But what about other types of materials like plastic and steel?” Well, we’ve got some bad news…

Does this mean we should spray everything we buy with Lysol and throw those potentially deadly cardboard boxes in the trash before they can pass along COVID-19? Infectious disease expert and President of ACCESS Health International, Dr. William Haseltine, told People that food packaging poses little risk of virus transmission and sanitizing your groceries might be, quote, “a little too much.”

The USDA says that so far, they’re, quote, “not aware of any reports at this time of human illnesses that suggest COVID-19 can be transmitted by food or food packaging.” That’s somewhat reassuring, except for those words “so far.” It’s always a good idea to rinse your produce when you get it home, though, especially in these strange times.

Food microbiologist Donald Schaffner agreed with his colleagues that there’s no evidence COVID-19 is spreading through food or food packaging. Taking the extra step to clean your groceries just isn’t necessary. Keep watching the video to see the surprising truth about sanitizing your groceries!

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