Health experts’ advice on whether you need to disinfect your shopping when you bring it home


When it comes to hygiene we are all being extra vigilant because of the coronavirus pandemic.

We are washing our hands more and supermarkets are enforcing new social distancing rules, with many only allowing a certain number of customers in at any one time.

However, once we have been to the shopping and bought our groceries home do we still need to take precautions?

It’s a concern many people have been having with one woman taking to Twitter to post a picture of her soaking her entire Tesco shop in the bath.

Both the NHS and the World Health Organisation (WHO) have spoken out to reassure shoppers that it’s ‘unlikely’ shoppers can be infected with the virus through groceries, or its packaging, reports The Mirror.

The risk from food has been been described as ‘really low

The NHS has said: “It’s very unlikely [coronavirus] can be spread through things like packages or food” – with the government’s own guidance stating: “COVID-19 is a respiratory illness. It is not known to be transmitted by exposure to food or food packaging.”

WHO echoed this when talking about commercial products, saying: “The likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low and the risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19 from a package that has been moved, travelled, and exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low.”

Stephen Baker, from the Department of Medicine at the University of Cambridge, said viruses – unlike bacteria – do not survive well outside the body, and described the risk when it comes to supermarket food and home deliveries as ‘not zero’ but ‘really low’.

He advised washing fruit and vegetables as normal, and said although food in packages would be unlikely to make anyone ill, the packages themselves can be wiped down if there are any concerns.

NHS guidelines for washing fruit and veg can be  found here.

Being in shops themselves may carry a higher risk, however, with Dr Baker adding that if you touch the same surface as someone who has sneezed on to their hands then ‘that’s going to be a bigger problem’.

Handles of trolleys, baskets and self-checkout machines are all commonly used by other shoppers, so it’s vital you follow guidelines to properly wash your hands when you return from the shop and after putting your groceries away.

You should also avoid touching your face and make sure you wash your hands before you eat.

The government website advises: “Although it is very unlikely that coronavirus is transmitted through food, as a matter of good hygiene practice anyone handling food should wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

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“This should be done as a matter of routine, before and after handling food, and especially after being in a public place, blowing their nose, coughing, or sneezing.”

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