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Can coronavirus (COVID-19) live on groceries? Are they safe to bring home?

Dr. Frank McGeorge addresses concerns about groceries

DETROIT – During the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, everyone still needs groceries, but there are concerns about how to handle the food and whether it’s safe to bring it home.

First, produce should always be washed regardless of COVID-19. But what about canned food or boxes? Could the virus live on those surfaces when you bring them home?

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The answer is yes. It’s certainly possible that a virus could be present if an infected person handled the item or accidentally coughed on it before you made the purchase.

To be clear: This has not been identified as a mode of transmission, and there is no clear guidance on this from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or Food and Drug Administration.

Dr. Frank McGeorge’s practical opinion is that when you’re in public, assume every surface you touch is potentially contaminated. That includes picking up cans, for example. That’s where hand sanitizer comes in.

When you bring packaged groceries home, wipe them down or put them somewhere to sit for two or three days. If there is any virus, it will die.

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If you handle items before a couple days and you haven’t wiped them down, then be sure to wash your hands.

One thing Dr. McGeorge warns against: spraying food directly with chemical disinfectants. The chemicals aren’t meant to be consumed.


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