By Ondrea Bluestone, Texas State University Nutrition Intern

With all the information going around about different ways to handle COVID-19, I wanted to use this space to clarify and discuss the recommendations made by the CDC. Because there are no current vaccines available, the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus. Much easier said than done, however this virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person contact. Respiratory droplets are produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. These droplets can travel and land on nearby individuals, which spreads the virus.

Like most other ways of protecting yourself from germs, washing your hands often with soup and water for at least 20 seconds helps to remove contaminated bacteria on your hands. Because bacteria does not only come in contact with hands it’s important to avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, for these are direct portals of entrance into the body. Putting distance between yourself and others and staying home as much as possible is what the CDC is recommending.

The CDC also recommends keeping your home and areas around you disinfected as much as possible. Diluting your household bleach (1/3 cup of bleach per gallon of water), alcohol solutions and other ERA-registered disinfectants can help disinfect appropriate surfaces. It is important to note that bleach should not be mixed with food or anything that goes into your mouth, as this could cause internal harm.

Due to the disruption in the current supply and demand effects of grocery stores, and the high demands of perishable and nonperishable items, it is important to keep aware of how you are cleaning your food. Fruits and vegetables, as well as beans and legumes should be washed before consumption. Do not wash produce with soaps or detergents, for they are not created for consumption. Vinegar is not capable of killing a virus, despite this being a common recommendation. Instead, using cold water and a vegetable brush to help scrub off hard-to-remove microbes. This is enough to remove any unwanted bacteria. This virus is not a food borne illnesses such as Norovirus or Hepatitis A, but instead is transmitted through respiratory droplets. Even if someone coughed or sneezed around your food, it is unlikely to survive on a food surface for very long. Rinsing and scrubbing under water is suffice according to the CDC, but if you wanted to be extra cautious, you could set aside food for at least 24 hours.

You can clean non porous sealed food storage containers with soap and water when you get your groceries home, such as cans or jars. If you don’t want to bother, leave them in their own little quarantine for 3 days, as the virus cannot survive on surfaces longer than that.

When eating from restaurants and getting food delivered to your house, be aware of the risks of who is handling your food and take proper precautions. This may include choosing from restaurants with a higher standard of cleanliness, washing your hands before and after your meal, as well as portioning the amount you eat so you limit the amount of exposures to new plates of food every time you eat. Having leftovers not only will make more meals, but it will also decrease the time around more people who could possibly infect you. Discard any food packaging just in case and use your own plates from home.

Stay safe everyone and tune into our Facebook live session tonight 4/7 at 8:30pm (recording will be available) to discuss more of this and answer your questions. Our facebook page is @food4successllc.