If there was ever an inopportune time to come down with a case of food poisoning and require outside medical attention, it’s now. With many of us sheltering in place, following common-sense procedures to keep your home food supply safe is of paramount importance. As an added bonus, such measures can prolong the shelf life of the food items you purchase, minimizing the need for replacements.
With an eye toward achieving those goals, Nasser Yazdani, an assistant professor in the Department of Public Health in the University of Missouri School of Health Professions, has outlined six tips for staying healthy and minimizing food waste during COVID-19.
1. Individuals should sanitize all surfaces and utensils that they come in contact with regularly.
While the COVID-19 virus cannot grow on food, experts believe the virus can remain on hard surfaces such as plastic, steel and other metals for up to three days (72 hours). The CDC recommends cleaning surfaces with soap and water before disinfecting. The COVID-19 virus is an enveloped virus, meaning it is susceptible to environmental disinfectants.
Utensils can be sanitized in a diluted bleach solution or by submerging them in water at temperatures of 160-170 degrees for 30 seconds. Many dishwashers have a “sanitize” setting that heats water to this temperature. If choosing to sanitize with bleach, mix one tablespoon of bleach with one gallon of water. After sanitizing, let the utensils air dry.
2. Leave any food items that do not need refrigeration in a secure spot for at least 48-72 hours.
Currently, there is no evidence of the novel coronavirus being transmitted through food packaging; however, letting items sit in the garage or car for three days will minimize the risk of transmission through hard surfaces. Avoid buying cans that are sharply dented, especially around the seam. If cans are dropped and a sharp dent appears, make sure to consume them within the next 24 hours.
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