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FDA: You don’t need to wipe down groceries to avoid coronavirus

Published Apr 20th, 2020 3:34PM EDT
Image: John Minchillo/AP/Shutterstock
  • There are many important precautions we all need to take to avoid catching and transmitting the novel coronavirus, including staying six feet apart from one another and washing our hands.
  • According to the FDA, wiping down food packaging is not a necessity.
  • FDA says “there is currently no evidence of human or animal food or food packaging being associated with transmission of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19”
  • Visit BGR’s homepage for more stories.

It has been well over a month since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the novel coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, but there is still plenty we don’t know about severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and COVID-19 — the disease it causes. We have been told to keep our distance from others (at least six feet) and to wash our hands for at least 20 seconds any time we come into contact with anything outside of our homes. These instructions are clear, but without a specific set of guidelines for everything we do on a daily basis, many concerned individuals are taking drastic steps to keep themselves safe that may not be necessary.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) addressed one of these precautions on its website last week, reassuring those who are wiping down groceries that “there is currently no evidence of human or animal food or food packaging being associated with transmission of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.”

“This particular coronavirus causes respiratory illness and is spread from person-to-person, unlike foodborne gastrointestinal or GI viruses, such as norovirus and hepatitis A that often make people ill through contaminated food,” the FDA explains, noting that “there are no nationwide shortages of food,” even if your local grocery store happens to be out of something. The FDA also provided a list of tips to protect yourself while grocery shopping:

  1. Prepare a shopping list in advance. Buy just 1 to 2 weeks-worth of groceries at a time. Buying more than you need can create unnecessary demand and temporary shortages.
  2. Wear a face covering or mask while you are in the store. Some stores and localities may require it. Check your state, county or city guidelines for any other requirements.
  3. Carry your own wipes, or use one provided by the store to wipe down the handles of the shopping cart or basket. If you use reusable shopping bags, ensure they are cleaned or washed before each use.
  4. Practice social distancing while shopping – keeping at least 6 feet between you, other shoppers, and store employees. Keep your hands away from your face.
  5. Wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds when you return home and again after you put away your groceries.
  6. Again, there is no evidence of food packaging being associated with the transmission of COVID-19. However, if you wish, you can wipe down product packaging and allow it to air dry, as an extra precaution.

Hopefully, this information from the FDA will serve to ease some of the stress that many are feeling in these uncertain times. As long as you are taking the necessary precautions, you can keep yourself and those around you safe from infection, and as it stands, wiping down food packaging isn’t one of them.

Jacob Siegal
Jacob Siegal Associate Editor

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.