Do I Really Need to Wash My Groceries?

During these unpredictable times, it can be tempting to try to take drastic measures to protect the health of yourself and your family. While some measures have been proven to be helpful, such as washing your hands and consuming a healthy diet, some may not be useful or may even be damaging to your health and wellness. One prevalent myth has many people asking – do I really need to wash my groceries? 

The answer? Not really. The only groceries that require cleaning are the fresh fruits and veggies you bring home. You should always give your produce a thorough rinse before using it. Properly washing produce before eating it will clear off most bacteria, dirt, or remnants of bugs left on your fruits and veggies. Experts recommend rinsing fresh fruits and vegetables with cold, running water to clean them best. That’s all it takes! 

But what about canned, bagged, and boxed foods? While bacteria and viruses can survive on some surfaces, it is incredibly rare that the transmission of any bacteria or viruses occur because of food packaging (such as plastic and cardboard boxes). Despite this, it is highly recommended to thoroughly wash your hands (at least 20 seconds) and disinfect kitchen surfaces after grocery shopping or unpacking groceries. Items on grocery store shelves may have been touched by several people before you brought them home, so be on the safe side and give your hands and surfaces a good scrub when you get home. 

It is always good practice to rinse produce before eating it, but be wary of using disinfectants, soaps, or other cleansers on items you intend to eat. Even trace amounts of these left on produce can be harmful to the digestive system. If raw foods and food packaging really make you concerned – one of the best steps you can take is to thoroughly wash your hands prior to cooking and prior to eating your meal.

Resources

  1. “Cleaning And Disinfecting Your Home.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2 Apr. 2020, www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/disinfecting-your-home.html. 
  2. Geggel, Laura. “Viral Video Advises Washing Fruit and Vegetables with Soap. Here's Why That's a Bad Idea.” LiveScience, Purch, 28 Mar. 2020, www.livescience.com/do-not-wash-fruits-vegetables-with-soap.html
  3. Schaffner, Donald, and Metafact. “Do You Really Have to Disinfect All Groceries Now? An Expert Explains.” ScienceAlert, 2020, www.sciencealert.com/food-safety-expert-explains-how-to-safely-deal-with-groceries-during-the-pandemic
  4. Shea, Courtney. “Should You Wash Your Groceries? COVID-19 Food-Safety Myths, Busted.” Should I Clean Groceries? Coronavirus Food Myths Busted, 2020, www.refinery29.com/en-us/2020/04/9650670/should-i-clean-groceries-wash-vegetables-fruit.