Should you be washing fruits and vegetables with soapy water now?

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@bradfalchuk and I were grateful to learn our local farmers market was open this morning; we walked there (keeping lots of distance) and donned masks and gloves once we got nearer to the market, only taking them off when we were almost home and there were no other pedestrians in close proximity. Yesterday I heard tales of crowded hiking trails and parks. Although we are all on a learning curve and aren’t always perfect as we figure out this temporary new normal, we must take the orders seriously and not abuse the freedoms we still have; grocery store and essential errand runs, bike rides or walks (being disciplined about correct protocol). It’s not the time for denial. We must take this seriously and shelter in place. It’s time for nesting, reading, cleaning out closets, doing something you’ve always wanted to do (write a book, learn an instrument or a language or learn to code online, draw or paint) going through photos, cooking, and reconnecting on a deeper level with the people you love. I find hope in the generosity, love, protection and care I see and feel through out our country everyday and my heart goes out to everyone directly affected or simply in fear. We will get through and I bet you our humanity will shine like never before ❤️

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Many of us have seen a change in our routine habits due to the global pandemic. Given how highly contagious this sucker is, it seems like no precaution should be spared. However, the one thing we’ve had hammered into us by now is that the best way to stop the spread is by washing our hands with warm water and soap and not to touch our faces (or anyone else’s). So the next logical question is: should we be washing everything else too? Like, should we douse our mother in law with a bucket of tepid, sudsy water when she comes out of her room? I’d vote for yes, but not for medical reasons. But what about food, specifically the fresh produce we receive from the grocery store that has been exposed to everyone and handled by many? According to disease experts, it won’t hurt.

Many people are finding themselves cooking all their meals at home—but even with that comes some theoretical risk.

Minimizing trips and going to the store during off hours (early in the morning or late at night) is the best way to reduce your risk, but experts say there are further precautionary measures you can take. “I would wear gloves — rubber gloves, leather, any kind, and be sure you wash your hands when you come home,” Dr. William Haseltine, infectious disease expert and Chair and President of ACCESS Health International, tells PEOPLE.

Once you do have groceries, there’s the question of how to handle them. In a recent interview with the Daily Mail, associate professor at the University of Sydney Timothy Newsome recommended washing fresh produce “with warm soapy water, just as you do your hands.”

But is this really necessary, and is it safe in itself? “Using soap has never really been recommended for fresh produce before, and our recommendation has still been to use water and rinse,” Francisco Diez-Gonzalez, director of Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia, tells PEOPLE. “But if people want to do it, it’s innocuous. I don’t have any evidence that it will for sure reduce risk of the virus because we don’t have the research.”

Dr. Haseltine adds that washing with soap “can help” minimize risk, but questions the practicality of it in many circumstances. “I wouldn’t wash your lettuce with soapy water,” he says, “but something like a potato or an apple or a plum you can wash, the outside of a mango you can wash.”

Both Diez-Gonzalez and Haseltine acknowledge that the safest way to ensure food safety is heat and cooking. “Your best friend when it comes to any pathogens or organisms is cooking,” says Diez-Gonzalez. “If you’re really concerned about not being exposed to any source, just eat cooked vegetables.”

[From People]

The article goes on to say that most of the information they have indicates that the true risks come from human to human contact and they just don’t have the data to prove that contact with food is a danger. But Dr. Halstine also said, although the risk from food is really low, it’s not zero. So if it makes you feel better to wash your apple in soap and water, do it. I have a soft bristled scrubber I reserve for fruit and vegetables. But, prior, I wouldn’t bother with something like an orange because I remove the peel. Now, I give everything a little scrub. I do, however, lean heavily on cooking the germs out of everything. (I pretend I can hear the CV-19 germs screaming as they die.) I’m relying on Instacart and Amazon Fresh for food and I give everything a wipe when I take it out of the bags (which adds about 30 minutes on to putting things away, but oh well). I just realized, though, I don’t do the same thing with Amazon or other non-food related store deliveries. I guess I should rethink that. I do wash my hands any time I reenter my house, even if I’d just gone to the garage. And randomly throughout the day. My hands haven’t been this clean since I was bartending.

Do what you must. It’s smart to give common surfaces a wipe with a clean cloth with something on it. I keep a spray bottle of vinegar and water to spritz around the house. I know it’s probably not killing what it needs to but no one is defying orders around here. Honestly, I tell myself any housework I am doing lowers our chances of spreading the disease. Intellectually, I know it does not, but it’s the only way I can talk myself into cleaning my house.

These are all old photos, btw

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Photo credit: Josh Hild/Pexels, Instagram and WENN/Avalon

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