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Grocery shopping safety tips during coronavirus pandemic

Grocery shopping
Posted at 3:46 PM, Apr 01, 2020

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Many are concerned about their safety while shopping at the grocery store during the coronavirus pandemic.

Dr. Don Schaffner, professor of food microbiology at Rutgers University, said staying safe is all about washing your hands and staying away from others.

His first tip, "make a list, because what you want to do is you want to minimize the amount of time you're in the grocery store," he said.

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Once you get to the store, he advises grabbing a clean cart or wiping one down yourself.

"My local grocery store has hand sanitizer at the entrance and I am definitely going to use that hand sanitizer, not to protect me, but to protect other people in the grocery store on the off chance I am bringing COVID-19 with me into the grocery store," Dr. Schaffner said.

While you're shopping, he suggests keeping to the 6-foot social distancing rule. The virus, he said, is spread person to person, so that distance protects you from getting infected.

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Dr. Schaffner also said people should be mindful of not touching their face while inside the store.

He said when he's ready, he'll head to the self-checkout, "if the self check out is available that minimizes, and again maybe that's not so much for me, but it's minimizing the exposure of the poor person who's running the cash register."

Once you head out the door, he said he sanitizes his hands again, "that sanitizer, that's for me now. I might have picked up coronavirus in the store, that's going to minimize my risk now."

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Once you're home, he suggests washing reusable bags, if you brought them, and not worrying about sanitizing any packaging or food.

"We have no confirmed cases where someone has gotten COVID-19 from food, we have no confirmed cases where someone has gotten COVID-19 from food packaging," he said.

Dr. Schaffner said after preparing any meal, you should wash your hands, adding it is a good practice to wash your hands every time you change activities.

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When it comes to the most vulnerable shoppers, Dr. Schaffner said they should stay home and let someone else do the shopping for them. Several grocers offer free grocery pickup, just order online or over the phone.

"We all owe a huge debt of thanks to the folks that are in the grocery stores that are there working being exposed to all of us so we can continue to have food," he said, also acknowledging every single person in the chain, from farmers to truck drivers.