COVID-19 is changing everything - from the way we work and our leisure time to going to the supermarket.
Not only are viruses buzzing in the air, but also a great deal of uncertainty and fear. As a result, many people ask themselves questions that they would otherwise probably never have asked themselves, such as: Should I really buy this perfect avocado or might it kill me because it is full of viruses? In addition, your feed is probably currently being determined by corona updates, which will certainly include one or the other fake news. So who are you supposed to believe now? Which news is true, which are corona myths? For example, is it really safer to be vegetarian now? Should you wash your fruits and vegetables with soap and water now? And are disposable gloves a good idea for shopping or not?
We have researched online and have compiled the answers, tips and explanations from various experts for you below.
Should I wash my vegetables with soap and water?
The debate over whether to put our greens in a nice bubble bath came up last week after a video went viral of a Michigan family doctor saying soap and water are a great way to keep fruits and vegetables COVID-19 free close. Since then, some experts have spoken out and refuted the claim. For example, the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment says that there are "currently no cases in which it has been proven that people have become infected with the novel coronavirus in other ways, for example through the consumption of contaminated food or through contact with contaminated objects".
Apart from that, soap or detergent residue on your food can cause nasty side effects. They can lead to nausea, diarrhea, and cramps, according to Jodi Koberinski, a food safety scientist at the University of Waterloo. “They're not made for that, and they're not safe to eat,” she explains.
But what if I rinse my apple really thoroughly under running water afterwards?you might be wondering now. The problem is that fruits and vegetables have porous surfaces and can therefore quickly absorb harmful chemicals. And you won't get it out so quickly even with thorough rinsing.
Okay, but isn't a little diarrhea better for COVID-19? First: Nobody said anything about "a little" diarrhea. You can really get sick - just like your children if you have them. Second, it is precisely these kinds of frivolous assumptions and comparisons that we should now avoid. That being said, it's not at all clear whether you could even kill the virus with soap and water (the same goes for lemon juice, baking soda, and bleach - whatever you do, please don't try to clean food with bleach or other harsh detergents!) .
In short: Try not to worry too much about whether you could get infected by smear infection from fresh fruit and vegetables, because the risk is extremely low as things stand. As always, simply clean your food under cold running water. If you are still afraid, you can simply peel and / or cook your fruits and vegetables - which of course could cause some vitamins to be lost. And as always: hand washing is the be-all and end-all! Before you touch food and afterwards.
Should I put my purchases in a corner and wait a moment before putting them away?
This question is a little easier to answer: No, there is no reason to leave the groceries bought in the supermarket in the car, in the hallway or anywhere else before putting them in your drawers and the refrigerator. “That is absolutely not a good idea,” warns Koberinski. In fact, this is not only totally exaggerated, but even dangerous, because you shouldn't break the cold chain. “It is very important to adhere to the general rules on food safety,” says the scientist. "Also because any kind of illness could weaken your body so that it has less strength to defend itself against viruses". In other words: a gastrointestinal infection would keep your immune system very busy and then your defenses might not be strong enough to survive a possible corona infection.
The expert recommends placing the purchases on a washable surface, putting them away and then cleaning the table, the floor or wherever your bags were - ideally with an alcohol-based cleaning spray.
Should I disinfect the packaging?
The fear of being infected through packaging has skyrocketed when studies were published showing how long the virus can linger on certain surfaces. Some people think that they now have to disinfect every chip package because theoretically an infected shopper could have coughed on them. Of course, nobody can rule that out 100 percent, but as I said, the risk is very low.
So it is enough if you pour the chips into a bowl at home, then wash your hands quickly and enjoy them afterwards. And of course that doesn't just apply to chips. According to Koberinski, if you want to be on the safe side, you can simply transfer muesli, pasta and the like into glass jars or Tupperware jars and dispose of the packaging. This also means that you don't use so many valuable cleaning agents.
What about UV light? Can I use it to kill possible viruses on food?
I've heard meat is particularly dangerous. Would it be better to eat a vegetarian diet from now on?
There are many reasons to consider a plant-based diet, but COVID-19 safety is not one of them. The fears about meat likely stem from the assumption that the origin of the virus could be related to animals. But according to Koberinski you don't need to worry: "Heat the meat to the recommended temperature - just like you normally would."
Should I reheat take-out to make sure it's coronavirus-free?
Of course, you shouldn't blindly eat anything that comes into your home from outside. And if you're worried that a restaurant you want to order from might not take the security precautions so seriously, maybe you'd better cook something yourself. Why? Because multiple warm-ups are not exactly safe either. In addition, you could worry so much about food that you get a stomach ache for just that (yes, yes, dear psyche). However, if you have a favorite restaurant that you've ordered many times at and that you trust, there's nothing wrong with doing it now. The operators are sure to be happy if you support them with an order in these difficult financial times.
Should I wear disposable gloves when shopping?
You have probably already seen some cashiers and customers with disposable gloves in the supermarket. And maybe you are now wondering whether you should also get a pack of 100 of the latex things. The answer is (as things stand): better not. There are several doctors who even clearly warn against this and call the gloves “real germs throwers” - such as the pulmonologist Jens Mathew. He says that they have "a lot more bacteria on the surface in a very short time than a freshly washed hand" and that you then distribute them nicely on all the products in the supermarket. In addition, you sweat quickly under the glove, which means that bacteria can multiply very quickly, which in turn can penetrate more quickly through the slightly softened skin. General practitioner Marc Hanefeld takes a similar view and says that the gloves do not protect the wearer or anyone else. Apart from that, the hands must be thoroughly disinfected both before and after use, says Hanefeld.
Then there is the problem of the wrong feeling of security: some people think they are completely protected by the gloves and then forget to adhere to the hygiene rules - i.e. they do not wash their hands properly or, in the worst case, even touch their faces with gloves.
As a reminder, the virus does not penetrate your body through the skin of your hands, but through the mucous membranes. So if you continue to be careful not to touch your face outside and wash your hands properly after shopping, you will reduce the risk of infection enormously.