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COVID-19: How To Reduce Your Risk When Buying Food

Updated: Apr 20

Food shopping in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic has changed. Medical doctor Jeffrey Van Wingen shares his advice. You can also watch his video below. 


In light of COVID-19, keep yourself protected when shopping for essential items.

Dr Van Wingen describes how to adapt what is called the “sterile technique” in the medical field to our shopping habits. The sterile technique is used during surgery when going into sterile environments so that doctors and nurses do not inadvertently give infections to their patients. In the video, Van Wingen offers the following advice for adapting the technique to decrease your risk of contracting the coronavirus when you go out shopping for food.

Because the coronavirus stays on surfaces for days, he recommends these safety precautions.

1. Don’t go to the supermarket if you have any respiratory symptoms, or if you have been exposed to the coronavirus. Do not let your loved ones over 60-years old go to the store. Ask a neighbour if you can’t go out.

2. Before you go, plan what you will buy. Make a list so that you spend as little time as possible in the store.

3. At the grocery store, go beyond just wiping your trolley handle with a disinfectant wipe. Commit to buying a product before you pick it up (you don’t know if you’re putting the virus on it, or if the virus is already on the product).

4. If you can, don’t bring your groceries inside the house unless you need them. 

Leave them in your garage, for example, for three days before bringing them in. This includes groceries being delivered.

5. Before bringing in your groceries, sanitise the workspace where you will place them. Divide your workspace into a clean side and a dirty side, using masking tape as a divider. Clean the whole table with a standard disinfectant (Handy Andy, Mr Muscle, etc.). Place your groceries on the ‘dirty’ side.

6. When you do bring the groceries inside, imagine they’re covered in glitter. Your goal is not to have any glitter in your house, on your hands, and especially not on your face. Remember that disinfectants and soap and water can dissolve this glitter.

7. Wipe down each item as you take it out of the bag with a disinfectant wipe and place it on the ‘clean’ side of the table. For items in cardboard boxes, such as cereals, take out the plastic bag inside and just discard the box. For fresh vegetables in a bag, either sanitise the bag, or open the bag carefully and drop the produce in the fridge’s crisper. Fruit with skin can be rinsed with water.

Watch the video for a more detailed look into the above-mentioned techniques.