In this article we will cover some of the ways by which you can handle  groceries with a minimum chance of getting  infected, including the benefits and disadvantages of the method discussed .One can choose the appropriate method based on local Government guidelines .

We should keep in mind that anything that comes into our home from outside, may be contaminated with the virus and will be a carrier for at least a few days. With this kept in mind, what all things can be done to reduce the chance of infections is discussed in this article .

First let’s see the survival time of the virus on different mediums.

What different studies show is that, on cardboard the survival time of the virus  is around 24 hrs, upto three hours in  air, on plastic or metal it can be upto 72 hrs and on glass for 120 hrs . The different time is due to the porous and non-porous surface . Since a porous surface like cardboard   can absorb moisture, the virus quickly dries out and gets inactive and since a smooth surface  cannot absorb moisture, the virus can survive for a longer time . This data regarding the time of survival of the virus on various surfaces, should be considered variable as we yet have to know a lot about this Virus. 

There is also one more theory which I propose is that, the virus may get trapped in a porous surface so less chance of it becoming  airborne by which it may infect us . 

Second, very important point is that the most common way  viruses will infect us is, if it comes in contact with our mouth , nose and eyes . So all your basic strategy is to keep the virus away from our face area  .  

1.Washing of fruits and vegetables under running room temperature water –

It is a good practice to  always wash fruits and vegetables  just before cooking or eating under running water. However , in the current CoronaVirus pandemic, it may not be a suitable idea to wash fruits and vegetables.

Reasons for this are –

  • No authoritative data is available on the effect of washing with water on the coronavirus.
  • You will be exposed to contaminated produce.
  • Also the splashing of water while cleaning can increase the surface area which can be infected. Any surfaces that the vegetables touch, can be infected. 
  • Washing the vegetables before storing in the fridge will reduce the shelf life.
  • Soaking fruits and vegetables in water can increase the  potential of  cross-contamination.

2. Washing of fruits and vegetables with soap water –

The Corona virus is known to be protected with a layer of lipid that can be broken down with soap, which makes washing hands and sealed grocery  with soap and water a highly recommended practice to combat the virus.

However, for fruits and vegetables since the FDA has not evaluated the safety of the residues that could be left from soaps and detergents on fruits and vegetables, it may  not be best  to use antibacterial soaps or dish detergents or liquid gels to wash fruits and vegetables because soap or detergent residues can remain on the produce or penetrate inside it, which can cause health issues, some of which may mimic COVID-19 symptoms.In the current condition, you should avoid anything which may lead to unnecessary visit to the hospital.

3. HAIP recommendation   of handling and disinfecting   Grocery,  vegetables , fruits and meat  

a) HAIP recommendation for Grocery and vegetables  

  1. Start a practice of getting Grocery at your gate . As under the current system if your area is sealed you will not be allowed to leave your building . So it is very important to search for a vendor who can deliver your Grocery at your gate .This will help you to stay at home, thus reducing your exposure to Corona virus  .This is also very important for elderly people and people who have current health conditions .

  2. Order   all Grocery  which will last for  at least a few  days (no of days will  depend on the size of your refrigerator and storage area in your house. This is important to calculate  as, if you go in quarantine your building may  be sealed for around 15 days ). If you cannot get home delivery then take  a plastic bucket or washable bag with a zip mouth for shopping  .When  you are getting things home  delivered, you can ask the delivery person to keep the material outside the house . Let it stay outside the door for  3 – 4 hours as per local guidelines ( this will settle the virus in the air )   Then wear protective gear ( face mask with plastic shield and gloves) and  take the grocery inside your house after removing any unwanted packing . Keep the unwanted packing outside your house in the garbage bin.
  3. Before bringing the grocery inside the house disinfect the area where you want to keep the grocery .
  4. Now separate the content of the grocery  into perishable and non perishable items . For non perishable items leave the material untouched for 3 to 4 days in a bucket  as per local guidelines. This should inactivate the virus .   For double protection cover the bucket with some lid or plastic sheet .
  5.  Perishable Items are mostly vegetables . Get required number of clean and dried large plastic bags and  seal clips or threads for tying the mouth of the bag . There has to be one unique bag for a particular day . For eg if you have ordered vegetables for 7 days you should have 7 bags .  . Divide the veggies, based on their daily usage in daily portions. Each daily  portion is transferred into the bag which has to be closed  with a seal clip or thread. No need to cut the veggies at this stage.. Prepare daily packets using this technique. After the daily bag is prepared you should wash these bags with soap water, taking care that the soap doesn’t enter into the bag. Pat dry and store in the refrigerator in lower compartments designated specially for the bag. No other food items to be kept with these items. Clean the bag or bucket used for grocery with soap water. Clean hands with soap and disinfect the protective gear used as well . In the above process all the activity with the vegetables is done in a dry environment so contamination of your area with splashing of water is avoided . Also cross contamination is prevented as each bag is sealed . Since we are storing the sealed pack in a lower designated place in the fridge, it will further prevent cross contamination in the fridge as nowadays refrigerators have  air circulation .
  6. Daily usage instructions – In a large pot, boil filtered water . Once it starts boiling, remove the packet for the day with the daily veggies and transfer  them carefully into the boiling water in such a way that they are completely immersed in it . You may put a heavy bottom pan on them so that they don’t float. Conversely you can use a ladle to push them in the boiling water. Keep them in boiling  water for 2 minutes. Then drain the water and rinse the veggies with filtered room temperature water. Wash the empty plastic bag with soap water and dry for future use.Clean the counter with soap water where you may have placed the packet or the vegetables.  (You can make a soap water spray to speed the process). Now the disinfected veggies are ready to be cut and used.
    Note – In the current times, we would highly recommend not to eat raw vegetables, all vegetables to be eaten after this hot water blanching and cooking  only. Wash hands thoroughly before and after the process is done. With this process due to boiling temperature of water which is close to 100 degrees Celsius, the virus may get inactive and after it gets inactive you will be very safe during cutting and cooking with no chance of cross contamination .
  7. You can also ask your vendor to give you vegetables and fruits  for daily consumption in a sealed packet.  In that case  just wash the pack with soap water and keep in the fridge and follow the process as mentioned in point 3(a)(6)

b) HAIP recommendation for Washing fruits –  It is recommended to buy fruits which can be peeled and eaten, such fruits can be washed and rubbed with brush after wearing protective gear and their skins can be discarded before eating. Examples of such fruits would be apples, watermelon, sweet lime, orange, banana, kiwi etc.

c) HAIP recommendation   of handling and disinfecting  meat  –

For meat products, order sealed packets only as per your daily requirement..  Wearing protective gear,  wash the packets with soap thoroughly. Do Not wash the meat in running water as it may soil the counter and surrounding area. Then store in a designated area in your freezer . 

Remove the pack on a daily basis and directly put it in the pressure cooker and cook under pressure . This will disinfect  the meat without causing any contamination. Once cooked you can cut the pieces in desired size and use as required. 

The article is for information only. Kindly consult with your local government authority for the best practice for your area .