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  • Doctor Shows How To Use The Sterile Technique to Disinfect Groceries and Food Deliveries

    Establishments are more careful now about hygiene, but it's still better to be safe than sorry.
    by Rachel Perez .
Doctor Shows How To Use The Sterile Technique to Disinfect Groceries and Food Deliveries
PHOTO BY iStock
  • While many supermarkets and restaurants have implemented tighter measures on hygiene and cleanliness, it's always better to be safe than sorry. It's not that you don't trust other people to be vigilant against the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), but it's more for your peace of mind.

    Every time you go out on a supply run or have groceries delivered, you risk contamination at home. This is why you wipe down not only the supermarket cart's handle but also the whole cart. COVID-19 is mainly spread from person to person via respiratory droplets and by touching contaminated objects or surfaces and then touching the nose, mouth, and eyes. The good news is regular disinfectants can eliminate the virus.

    To help with proper sanitizing of groceries and other essential supplies, Dr. Jeffrey VanWingen, M.D., a practicing family physician in Michigan, U.S., shared how people can adopt doctors' sterile technique when sanitizing groceries before bringing them inside the house.

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    What is the sterile technique?

    The word "sterile" means free of germs. The sterile technique is a set of specific practices and procedures to make equipment and areas free from all microorganisms and help keep it clean. Doctors use it when performing surgeries to ensure that the operating room is sterile and that they don't bring in any pathogens or germs and infect their patients.

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    How to adopt the sterile technique on groceries at home

    First, you have to make that your home is a sterile environment. You can achieve this by regularly disinfecting the areas and items you and your family often use, such as your toilet and bath, or touches, such as doorknobs, light switches, remote control, etc. Then, make sure that whatever you bring into the house, like groceries or takeout food, is clean.

    If you're having your groceries delivered, ask the courier to leave them outside your door. Except for raw meat and seafood, leave your shopping bags outside. Change your clothes, take a bath, and disinfect anything you brought with you during your supply run, before tackling how to bring the items inside.

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    When bringing in your groceries, follow Dr. VanWingen's adopted sterile technique and prepare a sanitation table:

    1. Soak a towel with disinfectant and clean a table.
    2. Divide the table into two areas: one for groceries or takeout food from the outside or "dirty" side, and the other for clean and sanitized items that you can proceed to use or store inside the house.
    3. Bring in your groceries and place them on the dirty side of the table. "Everything that goes to the clean side is supposed to be clean and sanitized," Dr. VanWingen stresses.
    4. When you're done, bring out the used grocery bags in your outside trash can and sanitize your table.

    How to sanitize different grocery items

    When bringing out items in your grocery bag, do so carefully and one at a time. Do you need to clean each and every item in your bag? Yes. It's better to be thorough than leave room for the virus to sneak into your home and your body. You have three options on how to do it.

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    1. Get rid of an item's packaging and transfer the content into a clean container.

    For cereal boxes, for example, get rid of the box and keep the inner plastic bag. Transfer fresh bread in a clean container without having to touch it so you can dispose of the bag. Transfer takeout food into clean plates, including sauce packets. Dr. VanWingen advises heating takeout food in the microwave for a minute or two before consuming them.

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    2. Spray disinfectant on the outside packaging or on items that come in plastic or thick containers or wipe them down with a towel soaked with disinfectant.

    This is best for juice tetra packs, food that comes in sealed bottles or sachets you intend to use much later, or medicine packets and bottles. Dr. VanWigen stressed that you need to wipe down more liberally the parts of an item that human hands have touched more often.

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    3. Fresh produce should be washed thoroughly with water.

    Take the fruits or vegetables out of the bag and place them straight into a bin filled with water. Dispose of the bag and wash fresh produce thoroughly and then pat fruits and veggies dry before putting it in the fruit basket. You can do this also for raw meat.

    For fresh produce sealed in a vacuumed bag, you can just wipe the bag thoroughly with a towel soaked with disinfectant before putting them in your refrigerator's crisper. (To ensure your vegetables last longer, click here.)

    Watch Dr. VanWingen's video below, and note his clarifications in the description:

    Tired of cooking and fast food delivery? Click here for establishments that deliver home-cooked ready-to-eat meals right at your doorstep.

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