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COVID-19 and Groceries – Your Questions Answered

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If you have been to the grocery store in the past 2 weeks you have most likely seen a lot of preventative measures – limiting the number of people in the store, lines 6 ft apart outside, reusable bags no longer allowed, masks…so many masks! It can make you wonder if our fresh food is safe to eat.  I wanted to answer some of the most common questions I am receiving as well as share some resources if you are having trouble accessing certain things like protein and toilet paper!

Important note:  This blog was written 4/8/2020 and is based on the most up to date scientific data available. Not only within the US but also derived from other countries that are further along in their COVID-19 exposure, and the behavior of other strains of COVID.  Having said that, new information is constantly coming out and I will update as I become aware of any changes.

Overview

The risk of transferring the coronavirus through food is very, very low. In fact, we have seen no evidence of COVID-19 being transferred through food or food packaging.  Still, it is possible for any virus to live on the surface, so it is important to follow the normal recommended procedures of washing your hands, washing your cooking surface and storing food properly. 

Is it safe to eat fresh fruits & vegetables?

Yes. The virus has not been shown to be passed through food.  Even if the virus were to land on the surface of your produce (such as someone sneezing on it) the amount of molecules that would be present, viable and actually on the part that you would eat is very, very low. Still, it is important to wash your produce and then wash your hands before and after handling any food.

What is the best way to wash produce?

Although there are many vegetable washes available, the majority of viruses and bacteria are not removed chemically, but rather physically.  So that means that physically rubbing or using a vegetable brush is your best bet.  There is no need to put soap on your produce but be sure to use soap and water to clean the brush (or your hands) before and after.

Do I need to wipe down packages?

If you are practicing safe hand washing when preparing your food (i.e. before and after) and putting things in separate containers (i.e. chips in a bowl not curling up on the couch with the bag) it’s not necessary to wipe down the packages. Having said that, it certainly doesn’t hurt so if it gives you piece of mind and you have plenty of wipes, go for it!

How about meal delivery or take-out?

The human you are receiving it from is more likely to transfer it to you than the actual food.  So use the same precautions as we talked about above with regards safety and packaging.  Specifically, shoot for contactless delivery when possible (and tip big because we are all in this together).  Remove the food from the packaging it came in and throw that away. Wash your hands and enjoy.

Does cooking kill the virus?

Yes.  You should feel safe to eat food once it is raised to above 150F for more than 3 minutes.  Still, wash it and wash your hands.

What if I am high risk or immunosuppressed?

I would practice every precaution above (erroring on the more cautious side) and skip raw fruits & vegetables for the time being.  Again, this might be overkill but that is what I would tell my loved ones…and you fall into that category.

Any resources for things I can’t find?

Here are a few helpful ones I have found.  Most are national and some local to San Diego:

Animal protein – Hamilton Meats & Provisions is a great resource for high quality animal protein.  You can visit their on-line store for delivery.  Or if you are local in San Diego, they sell directly to consumers once a week at their warehouse.  Follow them on Facebook to see what they have in stock each week.  Use SPA10 at check-out to support the person that told me about this great company!

Organic food, cleaning supplies and toilet paper!Public Goods is a label-less company (think Trader Joe’s) that provides high quality, environmentally friendly products at affordable prices.  They are a membership model (think Costco) but offer a 14 day free trial so you can see if you like their products.  Plus, they have toilet paper!

Stress & Sleep supportSopris Health & Wellness has recently reduced their Rx and Botanical CBD prices by 40% to give more people access to stress and sleep support.  Check out Slumber for sleep and Serenity for stress.  You can use discount code “taracoleman” for an extra 20% off.

ProduceCSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture) is really stepping up their game.  Many local farms have transitioned from grocery delivery to contactless pick-up, meaning you venmo them the money and they put a box of produce in your trunk. Kind of like a healthy drug deal 😉 In San Diego, Aviara Farms has a great CSA box for pick up! 

Many restaurants have pivoted to produce and ingredient delivery. Tender Greens has a produce bag as well as protein and fresh bread.  Check in with your local restaurants first, but word on the street places like Panera and Denny’s have also made this an option.

If you have any other resources you want to share, contact me and I’ll add it to the list!

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