Nutrition & COVID-19 Series: Stay Safe while Grocery Shopping
There is currently no evidence of human or animal food, or food packaging, being associated with the transmission of COVID-19. Despite this, many people have concerns about grocery shopping and its associated risks.
Going to the grocery store is a relatively safe activity as long as you wash your hands before and after and maintain social distancing while shopping. If you are at a higher risk of COVID-19 infection, the safest way of getting groceries is ordering online for home delivery. Avoid shopping if you are sick or have symptoms of COVID-19, which include a fever, cough, or shortness of breath.
To help protect yourself, grocery store workers, and other shoppers, follow the CDC/FDA recommendations below:
- Prepare a shopping list in advance; this will reduce the time you spend in the store browsing.
- Stay at least two meters away from other shoppers and workers while shopping and queuing.
- Wear a face covering or mask while you are in the store.
- Wearing gloves may offer some protection if used correctly.
- If you are at higher risk for severe illness, find out if the store has special hours for people at higher risk. If they do, try to shop during those hours. People at higher risk for severe illness include adults 65 or older and people of any age who are immunocompromised or have serious underlying medical conditions.
- When you do have to visit a store in person, go when fewer people are there (for example, early morning or late evening).
- Disinfect the shopping cart by using disinfecting wipes, if available. Supermarkets in the UAE have been undergoing a disinfection process.
- Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Use a contactless option at the check-out to avoid handling cash or having to use the keypad. If you must handle money, a card, or use a keypad, use hand sanitizer right after paying.
- If you use reusable shopping bags, ensure they are cleaned or washed before each use.
- When you return home, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and again after you put your groceries away.
- Follow food safety guidelines: clean, separate, cook, chill.
Stay safe. Stay healthy.
Dima El-Halabi, MSc, RDN
College of Health Sciences
Abu Dhabi University