The COVID-19 pandemic has us crazy. One day we were all free to mingle outside and go about our lives. Now, everyone must stay vigilant and observe social distancing to curb the spread of the pandemic. All the comforts of our past daily lives have been thrown out the window as weeks turn to months since the outbreak began.
Though everyone is strictly encouraged to stay home, we’re not prohibited from replenishing our food supplies. But to do so is a risk of potentially exposing ourselves to the CCP virus. A trip to the grocery store can be frightening for some of us. Safety precautions are a must.
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If you can take advantage of delivery services, please do so. However, if there are no other options and you need to re-stock supplies at home, then take heed of these tips from the experts.
Make a list
June McKoy, M.D., an associate professor of medicine at Northwestern Medicine, advises against impulsive buying at this time. “Make your list and go in like a Marine goes in: Parachute in, do your business, parachute out,” she says (AARP).
Don’t overdo it. It’s highly unnecessary to hoard items that will just spoil or that we might never consume. Brian Labus, Ph.D., MPH, an assistant professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas School of Public Health, says that the food and water supply will remain intact during a pandemic. So stockpiling is not needed. And besides, you have to be mindful of other people’s needs, so just buy 1 or 2 weeks’ worth of supplies.
Dr. Mckoy also suggests visiting the store during off-peak hours when there are fewer customers. This also applies to pharmacies. Beat the crowd and arrive early. If possible, ask for a 90-day supply of needed medications.
What to buy?
The best food to add to your shelves is non-perishable goods, according to Aline M. Holmes, DNP, RN, clinical associate professor at Rutgers University School of Nursing. So during this outbreak when fresh produce could become scarce, opt for canned goods, pasta, dried beans, rice, peanuts, and non-perishable milk just to name a few.
If you have kids, then maybe include a few high-energy foods along with comfort foods. If essential services like electricity, water, or the grocery stores go uninterrupted during the pandemic, then you can stock up on frozen foods and other perishable goods.
Now it’s time to visit the grocery store.
Face masks and disinfectant wipes
Erin DiCaprio, Assistant Specialist in Cooperative Extension and Food Virology Researcher, University of California, says to wear a mask that covers the nose and mouth to protect yourself. What if you are not aware that you have COVID-19? Asymptomatic COVID-19 cases — where you don’t show any symptoms of infection — are real. By wearing a mask, you will keep other people safe from the virus. But be warned, protection from the virus by wearing a mask is not guaranteed. So remember social distancing.
Furthermore, experts suggest carrying disinfectant wipes. Clean the supermarket cart or basket handles before usage. You can still handle grocery items like you usually do. Ben Chapman, food safety specialist and professor at North Carolina State University, says: “We have no evidence at all that food or food packaging are transmission vectors that we consider to be risky in this outbreak,” (AARP). Just be careful and refrain from touching your face, eyes, and mask during your trip to the store.
Food safety practices
Now that you’ve gotten what you need, keep in mind food safety to prevent foodborne illnesses. The FDA recommends rinsing fresh fruits and veggies under running water. And before opening canned goods, clean the lids first.
Refrigerate perishable goods within two hours after purchase. And finally, don’t forget the basic 4 food safety steps: Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill.