Disinfect your grocery store to protect yourself from coronavirus?
For the past few days, videos and publications have been circulating on social media explaining how to disinfect your fruits and vegetables, or even all the foods bought at the supermarket to avoid contamination with SARS CoV-2. But is it really necessary to wash the boxes of cereals, canned goods and other packaged foods that enter the house? The Rumor Detector has checked.
At present, there is no evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted through food or food packaging. Health Canada has not identified any cases of transmission through this route. In contrast, German researchers have shown that other coronaviruses can remain infectious for up to nine days on metal, plastic or glass surfaces. Another study published March 17 in the New England Journal of Medicine indicates that SARS CoV-2 remains infectious for one day on cardboard and three days on plastic and stainless steel.
Washing your grocery store?
It would therefore be theoretically possible to contract COVID-19 by touching a package where the virus is found, then putting your hand to your mouth, nose or eyes, says Normand Voyer, chemist and research professor in the Department of chemistry from Laval University. “Cleaning” his grocery store would therefore be a good habit to take to limit the spread of the virus, according to him.
His chemist’s tips, published on Facebook on March 23 and abundantly shared: place your bags in one place and wash your hands with soap and water, prepare a bowl of soapy water with dish soap and then wash unpackaged fruits and vegetables, rinse and let dry 24 hours. He also offers to wash canned goods, bottles and other packaging.
A long and useless ritual, if we are to believe the infectious disease specialists since there is no evidence that the coronavirus is transmitted by food packaging. And that if several people had been infected in this way, it would have appeared in recent weeks as an important mode of transmission.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food of Quebec (MAPAQ) indicates on its site that it is possible to contract COVID-19 by touching an object where the virus is found, then by reaching out to its face, but it is at best a marginal mode of transmission, assuming it to be one. The site specifies that, as the virus survives for three hours on dry objects (canned goods, cereal boxes, etc.), it is not necessary to clean your purchases.
As for fresh fruits and vegetables, they should be washed before consumption, as anyone is supposed to do in normal times. Washing under running water by rubbing the surfaces is sufficient. No need for detergent, says MAPAQ. Health Canada recommends the same.
Even Normand Voyer wanted to clarify his words. In a second Facebook message published on March 25, the chemist emphasizes that washing his grocery store is an additional precautionary measure. And that the best measures to curb the spread of SARS CoV-2 remain confinement, social distancing and hand washing.
As for the food delivered, it is recommended to place the dishes ordered on a clean plate without touching it with your hands, to discard the packaging, then to wash your hands with soap and water before going to the table .
No need to soap your fruits, vegetables, preserves and bags of noodles. We wash fresh fruits and vegetables by rubbing them under water before eating them and we wash our hands with soap and water regularly, especially after returning from the grocery store, after storing our shopping and before cook and eat.