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Why You Don’t Need to Disinfect Your Groceries and How to Shop Safely

by DailyHealthPost Editorial

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Face masks are indeed vital

Lots of contradictory things were said about face masks in the last couple of months but eventually, most specialists agreed that protecting your face with whatever face mask you have at your disposal helps. 

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Yes, N95 and other quality face masks work better but the CDC has confirmed that even DIY cloth face masks can reduce the number of airborne water droplets that we inhale and exhale. This is of great importance as it helps not only protect you from the disease but protect others as well.

Go out alone whenever possible

“Family shopping” is something a lot of people enjoy but now is not that time for that. All specialists agree that going to the store alone is a much better idea than washing your groceries but having shopped with your whole family.

Dr. David Aronoff from the Division of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center says that “If you have three people living together and all three people go to the store, even if all three people have a low risk of getting infected at an individual level, as a group they’ve tripled their risk, essentially.”

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Dr. Aronoff recently wrote a paper on safe food practices during the pandemic in the JAMA medical journal.

Disinfect your hands, cart, and shopping bag

Many stores quickly adopted the good practice of sanitizing their customers’ hands and cart handles at the entrance of the store.

Still, it is a good idea to also always bring a hand sanitizer or wipes with you. Dr. Rasmussen also adds that it’s best to make sure you’re not touching your phone while you’re in the store or outside in general. First, because the “phone is a great way to get your hands right up next to your face,” and second because you want to keep your phone as clean as possible anyway.

Gloves are mostly just plastic waste

Plastic gloves may protect your hands but they don’t protect your face. Touching your face, phone, keys, wallet, or groceries with a contaminated glove is the same as touching them with a contaminated hand. Simply sanitizing your hands regularly is a much better idea.

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Gloves are not magic,” Dr. Schaffner says. “Gloves don’t make you invulnerable. As soon as you touch something with your gloved hand, that contamination is on the gloves.”

Dr. Rasmussen also agrees – “I’ve seen a lot of people wearing gloves out in public, and they just kind of wear them all day and do a lot of normal activities, like talk on their phone, potentially eat, potentially handle food that they’re going to eat later with those gloves on,” she says. “And that’s not a great practice.”

Rachel Graham, a virologist at the University of North Carolina’s Gillings School of Global Public Health also advises people who do wear gloves to remember to at least remove them properly.

“The best way to remove gloves that might be contaminated is to basically grab them from the inside on your palm side and pull them out like you’re pulling off a sock, so you end up turning them inside out.”

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One of the few benefits of wearing gloves is that if you have sensitive skin on your hands and it gets irritated from all the hand sanitizer, sanitizing your gloves instead can protect your skin. Aside from that, however, they are mostly just a waste of plastic.

Protect the cashiers as you protect yourself

Most shops have installed plastic or glass shields in front of their cashiers but even then it’s still important to make sure you keep a safe distance from them for both your sakes. 

Not only is it kind to protect them as they one of the several professions who still have to work with people every day but it’s also best for everyone else to make sure that cashiers are as healthy and safe as possible.

As for self-checkout machines – they can be a good alternative as long as there isn’t too much of a crowd around them. If the line at the cashier is shorter and social distancing is easier to maintain there – that should be the better option.

Opt for no-touch payments whenever possible

It’s still unclear exactly how long the Covid-19 virus survives on surfaces such as wallets, cash, coins, and credit cards but we do know it’s a long time. So, picking the payment method with the least physical contact and touches possible is the safest way to go about it.

However you pay, sanitizing your hands and card after a transaction is obviously vital.

Is ordering online safe?

Getting your groceries delivered makes it a better idea to disinfect them as you don’t know who or how they were handled. On the other hand, this is the ultimate social distancing option as it eliminates the risk of direct airborne transmission.

So, it’s overall a good idea. Just remember to leave a tip for the delivery guy/gal as they are not only doing the work but also putting themselves at risk throughout the whole day to keep you safe!