Are germs following you home from the grocery store? Doctors weigh in

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) -- Are you bringing germs home with you from the grocery store? Some doctors believe you can if you’re not careful.

Grocery chains are doing everything they can to limit the spread of COVID-19.

“We’re spraying down buggies periodically,” said Johnny Miller, Piggly Wiggly Manager. “Company coming in next week - environmental company. Has a static cling spray that can spray and sanitize all the buggies and registers in the store and lasts up to seven days.”

But even with grocery stores’ best efforts, doctors warn you could still pick up germs on a quick trip to get what you need.

"Every canned good, every plastic and cased food item - they're not going to be able to do that," said Dr. Jeffrey VanWingen.

New research shows that COVID-19 may live on surfaces for an extended time. For cardboard, like your cereal or box of rice - 24 hours. Plastics, like your lotion bottle or packaged fruit - up to three days.

We still need to shop to get items we need, so Dr. VanWingen suggests making a game plan.

► Make a list before you go, so you can go right in and pick up what you need.
► Try not to touch a lot of items inside the store. This is not the time to browse.
► You don’t have to hoard, but try to buy at least two weeks of food when you go to the grocery store so you don’t have to go as often.
Keeping yourself safe from germs doesn’t stop at how you shop, it’s also what you do when you get those groceries home.

“I think thinking of those as potential surfaces of infection is important,” said Dr. VanWingen. “If you need to bring things into your house, clean and sanitize - it’s not a perfect process, we’re all just doing the best you can.”

Doctors says when you bring your groceries home, identify an area for them to go. Disinfect on half of the space and put the groceries on the other half.

Start with unpacking your fruit and vegetables - have those items soaking in soapy water while you unload the rest..

Using disinfectant spray, wipe down each item you bought to kill germs and place them on the side of the table you sanitized. For items that are pre-packaged, consider removing them from the original box. Once you’re done wiping things down, remove your grocery bags, sanitize the table and your hands, and put your items away.

But don't forget about your fruit and veggies that's are soaking. Doctors say scrub each for about 20 seconds and then put them away.

“It’s going to take more time to do this, but in the interest of safety, I think it’s important and these days people have a bit more time on their hands,” Dr. VanWingen.

Dr. VanWingen says if you can leave non-perishable items you purchased in your garage for three days to give germs time to die, consider that, but if you can’t, complete the disinfectant routine.

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