*The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) offers the most accurate and up-to-date information on COVID-19. The tips shared in this article are in line with evidence-based sources of information from the CDC and The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, for how to support health with good nutrition and food safety.
Food Safety Tips During COVID-19
Are you feeling overwhelmed with grocery shopping and preparing food right now?
You’re not alone. For many, the thought of grocery shopping and handling food during COVID-19 sparks discomfort and anxiety.
…did I wash my vegetables properly?
…should I be washing down food packaging?
…how can I make this food last 1-2 weeks?
Feel confident in the kitchen with these best practices for grocery shopping and basic food safety principles!
3 Tips for Grocery Shopping
1. Plan in advance.
Whether you order groceries from a delivery service or visit a grocery store, there are multiple benefits of operating from a meal plan. Creating a meal plan can help you save money, time, and reduce food waste. Map out your weekly meal ideas using a worksheet, similar to this Weekly Meal Planner. It’s great for capturing recipes that you want to try, figuring out what items you need to buy, and organizing your list by food group.
2. Supplement with shelf-stable items.
Plan for groceries to last 1-2 weeks to limit store trips. Frozen produce is an excellent option to increase fruit and vegetable intake, without worrying about it going bad. Use frozen fruit in smoothies or as a topper on warm oatmeal. Incorporate frozen veggies in soups, stir-fries, or heated as a dinner side dish. Additional shelf-stable staples might include canned beans for protein, nuts and nut butter for healthy fats, and whole grains like rice, quinoa, or pasta. For additional recipe ideas, check out this article on Pantry Staple Meals.
3. At the store.
If picking up your groceries, abide by the CDC’s recommendations to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Wear a covering or mask while at the store. Use sanitation wipes to wipe down your grocery cart. Bring wipes from home just in case. Limit what you bring into the store. Practice social distancing while shopping, keeping at least 6 feet away from others.
How to Properly Handle Food At Home
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, there is currently no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with the transmission of the coronavirus.
However, food handling and safety at home is still important as always and can be implemented with these principles.
Yep- you guessed it! Hand washing is a top priority. Wash your hands with warm soapy water for 20 seconds upon returning home from your grocery trip and after putting groceries away. It’s especially important to wash hands before, during, and after handling food.
As mentioned there is no evidence of food packaging being associated with the transmission of COVID-19. However, you can wipe down product packaging and allow it to air dry, as an extra precaution. For canned products, wipe down lids. Do not use soap, bleach, or commercial cleaning products on the food itself as this can be harmful.
Raw meat and fish.
Despite what you might think, rinsing raw meat or fish does NOT clean it. Washing raw meat and fish can spread more harmful bacteria around your kitchen sink or onto utensils. It increases the chances of cross-contamination. Be sure to wash hands after handling raw meat, fish, and uncooked eggs.
Fruits and vegetables.
To properly clean fruits and vegetables, wash them thoroughly under running water, without soap or bleach. Running water does the trick! I like to place fruits and vegetables in a big strainer and let them sit under running water to clean. Additional considerations:
- For firm produce, like potatoes or melons, scrub with a produce brush.
- It’s also a good practice to wash the skins of produce before cutting into them. For example, even if you don’t eat the outside of an avocado, you can still rinse under running just like other fruits and vegetables.
- Last but not least, there is no need to wash produce labeled as “triple-washed,” “pre-cleaned,” “ready-to-eat,” etc.
Use a clean paper towel or cloth to dry produce.
After unloading groceries and properly storing them within 2 hours of purchasing, it’s a good time to wipe down kitchen surfaces. Use hot soapy water to wipe down countertops after unloading groceries and before and after preparing food. Sanitize kitchen counters using a commercially available disinfectant product or DIY solution.
Hopefully, with these resources, you’ll feel confident in the kitchen and be able to enjoy the comfort and nourishment of food during this time.