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Heads up, consumers: When running the essential errand that is grocery shopping during the coronavirus epidemic in the U.S., there’s no need to wipe down the food packaging after you’ve returned home, according to a federal agency.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) attempted to quell Americans’ fears that their food packaging may be contaminated with the novel coronavirus, as recent studies have suggested it can live on certain surfaces between hours and days.
But in a statement posted to its website on Thursday, the FDA said: “We want to reassure consumers that there is currently no evidence of human or animal food or food packaging being associated with transmission of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.”
“This particular coronavirus causes respiratory illness and is spread from person-to-person, unlike foodborne gastrointestinal or GI viruses, such as norovirus and hepatitis A that often make people ill through contaminated food,” it added, noting there are currently no nationwide shortages of food, though some stores may be out of certain products. (Speaking of, what drives people to panic buy?)
The FDA also provided tips on how to protect yourself, other shoppers and store employees when buying essential items. For instance, it advised to:
- Prepare a grocery list in advance
- Wear a face mask or covering while in the store (this is in line with recently updated Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] guidelines, and is now mandatory in hot spots like New York)
- Practice social distancing while shopping, make sure to stay at least 6 feet away from others
- Thoroughly wash your hands after returning home and again after putting the groceries away
“Again, there is no evidence of food packaging being associated with the transmission of COVID-19. However, if you wish, you can wipe down product packaging and allow it to air dry, as an extra precaution,” the FDA added.