Coronavirus: how to sanitize groceries and food deliveries

Do you need to sanitize groceries, clean packets, tins and more before you put away your shopping during the Coronavirus outbreak? Find out how

Coronavirus and shopping: supermarket buying limits
(Image credit: Getty)

Have you even thought about sanitizing groceries? We have – we FINALLY got a food delivery today – thankfully, because the fridge was bare. And, yes, we did sanitize our groceries even before they brought them into the house.

Do we need to be doing this? Do we really need to clean the items before we put them away in the cupboard and fridge?

Currently, there are no special measures recommended whether you receive a shopping delivery or bring home your own shopping, and the NHS says, ‘It's very unlikely [the Coronavirus] can be spread through things like packages or food.’

Ben Chapman, a professor and food safety expert at N.C. State University told The News & Observer agrees, advising hand-washing and hand-sanitizing instead. 'When I grab my cereal box and fill my bowl and put the box away, I wash my hands,' he said. He does, however advise washing fruit and veg, but says that he has always advised that. He does concede though, that if you feel better having cleaned your groceries, then why not. 

The biggest risk, continues Professor Chapman, is coming into contact with someone who is infected when you're out and about. You should wash your hands as soon as you come in, following government advice. 

If you do live with someone in a high risk group, it is of course not going to do any harm to wipe down all the packaging where possible with anti-bacterial wipes or solution. It won't kill the virus but it might minimise the spread of other germs. 

What did we do with our food delivery? We brought them to the front door, took every item out of the bags, wiped them with antibacterial wipes and put them in the hallway, ready for the fridge. Then we stored the bags out of the way in the shed. We'll use them in a few weeks when we're not so anxious about the spread of the Coronavirus. And then we washed our hands. And only then did we put the shopping away. Yes, it took 15 minutes to wipe down all 80 items... but it's 15 minutes well spent. 

You should also make sure you’re following food hygiene principles when you’re cooking.

Food hygiene essentials

  • You should always wash your hands before preparing food, and after touching raw food.
  • Keep raw food separate from ready-to-eat food.
  • Use different chopping boards for raw and ready-to-eat food.
  • Store meat and fish in a sealed container on the bottom shelf of the fridge.
  • Always wash fruit and vegetables under cold running water before eating. 
  • Do not use household cleaning products or washing-up liquid on fruit and vegetables. These cleaning products are not intended for human consumption.

Getting your shop delivered and suspect that someone in your home has COVID-19? Remember that you need to specify when you order that the delivery driver should leave items outside and not come into your home.

  • More cleaning advice on our dedicated hub page