Food safety during COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how we do almost everything. To protect ourselves from contracting and spreading the virus, there are many new safety measures in place.

While we limit how much we go out, one thing that all of us do is grocery shop. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency ensures our foods are safe and healthy and the grocery stores themselves are doing their part to limit exposure. There are also no reports of COVID-19 being transmitted through food or food packaging. However, there are some basic health and food safety tips that can help you feel more comfortable shopping for food during COVID-19.

Wash your hands

Thorough hand washing is still one of the best ways to protect against the spread of COVID-19. You should wash your hands for a full 20-30 seconds with warm water and soap.

Use hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes on carts and baskets

Most grocery stores have taken the responsibility to disinfect the shopping carts and baskets, and they are doing an incredible job. If you want to take some extra precaution, you can use disinfectant wipes on the handles of carts and baskets. You can also wipe down the top edges of the baskets and carts in case you think you may touch them at some point.

Wear your mask, and avoid touching your face

Masks are required in most places, particularly grocery stores where physical distancing isn’t always possible. Make sure that you put your mask on before you enter the store, and do not touch your eyes, nose, and mouth during your shopping trip.

Only touch the groceries you intend to take

While shopping, limit the number of items you touch. Pick up only what you plan on purchasing.

Pay with a debit or credit card

If possible, always try to pay with a debit or credit card. with the TAP method. Avoid using cash as much as possible. If you must use cash, sanitize your hands before and after touching it.

Wash all your produce and wipe down your groceries

When you are home, there are a few precautions you can take to safely store your food.

  • Wipe down your plastic and cardboard containers, bottles, and bags with a disinfectant wipe
  • Wash your fruits and vegetables before putting them in the fridge or pantry
  • Once you have completed the wiping, washing, and disposing of grocery items, be sure to wipe down your table, counter, and sink with soap and water or with a disinfectant wipe/spray
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water

Reduce the number of times you shop by meal planning

Many people are planning their meals out over the course of 1-2 weeks so they don’t have to make frequent trips to the grocery store.

Meal planning may seem daunting if decision-making or planning ahead is something that you find difficult. But meal planning can actually reduce the need for quick decision-making and give you space to work on your planning skills.

Check to see if your local grocery store has special hours

Some grocery stores have special hours in place, with times set aside specifically for elderly individuals or people with disabilities. You can call your local store and ask about their policies.

Alternate methods of getting your groceries

Grocery shopping has changed immensely over the past year. The pandemic has placed restrictions on occupancy in stores, and stores have had to adapt. Home delivery and curbside pickup have become popular alternatives to shopping in person.

Home delivery allows you to order your groceries online and have them delivered to your home through a service. An example of this is Instacart. While this can be an effective substitution for in-person shopping, delivery times and product availability may be limited.

Curbside pickup allows you to order your groceries online or over the phone, and arrange to pick them up at the store’s location without going inside.

Another option is meal kits. Brands like Hello Fresh can deliver meals with portioned ingredients directly to your door, eliminating the need to go to the grocery store as much.

Whichever way you are able to get your food, the important thing is that you feel safe and comfortable. If you need help with grocery shopping or food safety, reach out to a family member or caregiver.

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