Tags: Coronavirus | Coronavirus Special | Health Topics | Cold/Flu | produce | hygiene | soap

How to Safely Clean Your Produce to Prevent Coronavirus

vegetables laying in an outdoor market before the world shut those down
(Nick Ansell/AP)

By    |   Monday, 30 March 2020 04:16 PM

It is a whole new world out there when it comes to hygiene. We wash our hands constantly with soap and water for 20 seconds, use hand sanitizers, and wipe household surfaces with alcohol or bleach-based cleaners.

But what about the produce you bring home? How do you know someone has not sneezed or coughed on that apple you bought?

According to an article published in USA Today, food items, including fresh produce, can spread the coronavirus.

"If the produce is contaminated by a sick person and you touch it and then your face, you can become infected," says Felicia Goulet-Miller, an instructor of microbiology at Florida Gulf Coast University.

While many experts say there is no evidence or documented cases of COVID-19 that suggest the virus can be transmitted by food, Don Schaffner, a food science professor at Rutgers University in New Jersey told USA Today:

"What we believe is true that you won't get coronavirus from that apple, but we don't know that definitively." 

Here are tips on how to properly process produce:

  • Do not use chemicals such as bleach or chlorine on fruits and veggies and this includes disinfecting wipes and isopropyl alcohol. Goulet-Miller says these cleaning agents are not safe for human consumption.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and then rinse the produce under running water to remove contamination. Note that cooking vegetables should take care of the virus, Francisco Diez-Gonzalez, director of the Center for Food Safety at the University of Virginia, told USA Today. 
  • Do NOT wash fruits and vegetables with soap and water, says Live Science. Despite what a doctor on a viral video advises, this can be a dangerous practice.
  • "We have known for 60 years there is a toxicity issue about consuming household dish soaps," Benjamin Chapman, a professor and food safety specialist at North Carolina State University told Live Science. "Drinking dish soap or eating it can lead to nausea or an upset stomach. It's not a compound that our stomach is really built to deal with."

Goulet-Miller adds she would recommend washing all fruit under running water even if it has a peel.

"Even if the fruit has a peel, you should wash it first because touching it could contaminate your hands and you could then infect yourself as you eat the delicious banana," she told USA Today.

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It is a whole new world out there when it comes to hygiene. We wash our hands constantly with soap and water for 20 seconds, use hand sanitizers, and wipe household surfaces with alcohol or bleach-based cleaners.
produce, hygiene, soap, hand sanitizer, bleach, supermarket
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2020-16-30
Monday, 30 March 2020 04:16 PM
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