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WA Department of Health: ‘No reason’ to disinfect groceries

A Trader Joe's in Burien. (MyNorthwest photo)

Out of an abundance of caution, many people have taken to disinfecting their groceries after returning home from the store, something the Washington State Department of Health says isn’t actually necessary.

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“We have no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 is spreading through food at all,” the state DOH said in a recent blog post on Medium. “When you return home from the grocery store, please thoroughly wash your hands, but there is no reason to try to disinfect your groceries.”

The DOH notes that coronavirus spreads most prominently through “tiny droplets in the air after someone coughs or sneezes,” and that while it is “also possible for the virus to spread through droplets on hard surfaces, this is also not the main way it spreads.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration holds a similar stance, noting that there is “no evidence of human or animal food packaging being associated with transmission of coronavirus.”

This is further backed up by other medical experts as well, including Dr. Joseph Vinetz, a Yale professor who specializes in infectious diseases.

“I haven’t seen one iota of evidence that grocery shopping, newspapers, or packages have ever introduced an infection to somebody,” said Dr. Vinetz.

Washington grocery stores take steps to restock dwindling supplies

That said, it’s still advisable to take other social distancing precautions while out shopping — that includes maintaining six feet of distance from others, avoiding touching your face, and washing your hands upon returning home.

In terms of the actual shopping itself, the Washington DOH points out that “there is no need to worry about shortages, and no need to stock up,” recommending that you have enough groceries to ensure you don’t have to leave the house more than once a week.

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