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Coronavirus Update: Experts Address Grocery Shopping Safety Concerns

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- As we try to self-isolate, one place we cannot avoid people is the grocery store.

And what about the packages of food we buy? How safe are they?

If grocery shopping was just a burdensome chore before, Jersey City's Mimi Chen says it's a psychological nightmare now.

She worries over what to disinfect, what to wash and what to leave out to give the coronavirus time to die.

"It's probably not scientifically accurate. It's probably more mental," Chen told CBS2's Christina Fan.


According the FDA, there is no evidence right now that food or food containers can transmit COVID-19.

Microbiologist Dr. Donna Farber explains why.

"In most cases, the virus really has to enter your lung to be infected so it's something that you have to breath in through a droplet and that's how you're really gonna get the infection," she said.

But like other viruses, it is possible COVID-19 can survive on some surfaces for a period of time.

If you want to play it safe, Farber says you can take precautions.

"You can wipe off everything with either dilute bleach or disinfectant wipe or even like a tissue moistened with alcohol," she said.

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ Health Dept. | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211

But Dr. Ernest Patti, with the CUNY School of Medicine, says the most important thing is to clean your hands after handling packaging.

"Sanitizing every box and package will give people the false sense that oh, well, I've already done that, so everything is good. I think the key is always remembering to get into the habit of repeatedly washing your hands in between," he said.

Both experts say it's unnecessary to leave packages of food outdoors, and when it comes to fruits and vegetables, a good vigorous wash should suffice.


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