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Should you wipe down your groceries? What you can do when you bring them home

While there has been no evidence so far that the coronavirus is transmitted through food, it can linger on surfaces like plastic and glass.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — When you get home from the grocery store, should you wipe down your groceries and produce to keep yourself safe from COVID-19? This is a question being asked a lot right now - searches for “should you wipe down your groceries” on Google have tripled, just in the last week.

While there’s no evidence so far that the coronavirus is transmitted through eating food, research does show that the virus can exist on glass, plastic and stainless steel for days. Scientists also think that it can exist in your refrigerator for weeks and in your freezer for years.

RELATED: VERIFY: No suggestion coronavirus transmits via food, but practice good hygiene anyway

If you’re concerned about your groceries, there are some extra precautions you can take. Dr. Jeffrey Vanwingen from Michigan shared a video on YouTube explaining how to disinfect your groceries before putting them away. The video, uploaded in March, has been viewed more than 25 million times.

How to clean your groceries:

  • Divide your counter in half, with a “clean” side and a “dirty” side. You can do this mentally or you can use some kind of border like painter’s tape. Put all the groceries you just brought home on the “dirty” side. This helps prevent cross-contamination between items you’ve cleaned and the ones you haven’t.
  • Spray a household cleaner onto a paper towel or use a disinfectant wipe to wipe down plastic packaging, canned goods, bottles and jars. After you’ve wiped each item down, put it on the “clean” side of your counter.
  • If you bought something that is contained in a sealed package inside a cardboard box (like frozen pizza or cereal), take the sealed bag out of the box and wipe the bag down. You can also put boxed items like pasta into reusable containers. Throw away the cardboard boxes.
  • Do not use a disinfectant spray or wipes on fruits and vegetables – eating cleaning solution can be dangerous. The best practice for your produce is to rinse everything under cold, running water for 20 to 30 seconds, scrubbing the outside surface with your hands or a brush. (Dr. Vanwingen clarified his stance on cleaning produce in a secondary video.)
  • Once you’ve cleaned your groceries, disinfect the dirty side of the counter and wipe down anything else you may have touched, like your faucet.
  • The last and most important step is to wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds.

It’s always a good idea to wash your hands both before and after you prepare your food as well.

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