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safefood's advice for food shopping and storage during ongoing Covid-19 restrictions

safefood's advice for food shopping and storage during ongoing Covid-19 restrictions

As public health measures to deal with COVID-19 continue, safefood is reminding people of the steps they can take to protect themselves when food shopping and storing food at home.

 

  • Retail data shows March was the biggest month of grocery sales ever recorded
  • Shopper spend is up 27% as households make bigger shopping trips
  • 32% increase in purchase of frozen and cupboard-stored foods
  • safefood encourages people to visit safefood.eu for practical advice and tips on food shopping and storage

 

Thursday, 23 April 2020: As public health measures to deal with COVID-19 continue, safefood is reminding people of the steps they can take to protect themselves when food shopping and storing food at home.

Retail data published last week by Kantar* revealed that the Irish grocery market experienced its busiest ever period over the 12 weeks to 22 March 2020, with a rise of year on year sales of 10.1%. With shopper spend up 27% due to the average household spending an estimated additional €122 on groceries during the four weeks to 22 March, last month was the biggest month of grocery sales ever recorded. Sales of items with a longer shelf life also increased by 32%, while fresh food sales grew by 16%. In addition, more Irish households than before have placed an online shopping order, with one in 10 placing an order in the four weeks to 22 March. In response, safefood is encouraging shoppers to visit safefood.eu for practical advice and tips on food shopping and storage to ensure the health and safety is top of mind.

Dr Linda Gordon, Chief Specialist in Microbiology with safefood said:

“Currently, there is no evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted by food or food packaging. However, it is always important to follow good hygiene practices when handling or preparing foods. You should always wash your hands and surfaces often, separate raw meat from other foods, cook to the right temperature and put food in the fridge as soon as you can.”

“A question we’re being asked a lot is whether people should wash or disinfect food packaging when they bring it home from shopping”, continued Dr Gordon. “The simple answer is no – it’s not necessary to sanitize the outside of food packaging as there is no current evidence that the virus can be transmitted in this way. The main risk of transmission is from close contact with infected people. Our advice is to maintain good hygiene habits and to wash your hands regularly and to follow current public health guidelines re social distancing.”

With many people cooking a lot more than they usually do, Dr Gordon also had advice on how to deal with leftovers. “Typically, if there is food left over after a meal, get it into the fridge within two hours – you can help cool it more quickly by dividing it into smaller portions. However, remember that cooked rice is high-risk and must be cooled and put in the fridge within one hour. Any leftovers properly stored should be eaten with three days but if you’re in any doubt, throw it out into your compost bin.”

The recent increases in online food shopping also highlight the importance of storing and handling food at home properly. “As we would normally do, put away shopping as soon as you get it, especially perishable foods which must be stored in the fridge or freezer”, continued Dr Gordon. “And always wash your hands after handling any food packaging and before you begin to prepare food. If you’re going food shopping for yourself or others, wash your hands before you go and, as soon as you come home and again after you unpack your shopping.”

More information and practical advice about food, food shopping and COVID-19.
 
Ends

For more information or to request an interview, please contact:

Wilson Hartnell PR     safefood
Clodagh Hogan      Dermot Moriarty (m) 086 381 1034 
Tel: +353 1 669 0030        Email: press@safefood.eu
Mob: +353 87 774 6128
Email: clodagh.hogan@ogilvy.com

Sally McLoughlin
Tel : +353 1 669 0030  
Mob: +353 87 972 2549
Email: Sally.mcloughlin@ogilvy.com


Reference:

*Kantar Worldpanel weekly analysis of Irish retail market, April 2020. Accessed at https://www.kantar.com/Inspiration/FMCG/Record-demand-for-grocers-as-Ireland-entered-lockdown

Editor’s Notes:

Currently, there is no evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted by food or food packaging.

However, it is always important to follow good hygiene practices when handling or preparing foods. You should always wash your hands and surfaces often, separate raw meat from other foods, cook to the right temperature and put food in the fridge as soon as you can.

Food shopping advice

  • Please don’t go shopping if you have COVID-19 symptoms. You can order your groceries online or have some family or friends drop them off instead.
  • When you go food shopping, you should wash your hands before you leave the house, avoid touching your face when you’re out and follow social distancing.
  • When you come home, you should wash your hands straight away. Wash them again once you have unpacked and put away your shopping.
  • It is not necessary to sanitise the outside of food packaging. While there is some evidence that the virus can survive on hard surfaces, the risk from handling food packing is very low and there is no evidence that the illness can be transmitted in this way.
  • If you are sanitising surfaces or shopping bags, follow the manufacturer’s instructions about how much time is needed before wiping the sanitiser off.
  • Gloves can give a false sense of security. They would need to be changed very frequently to be effective. It’s better to wash your hands often and avoid touching your face.

Frequently asked questions

I’ve seen advice that it’s safer to leave your grocery shopping outside your home, like in your boot or garage, for a few hours before you bring it into your home. Is that true?
You should always put away your shopping as soon as you get home, especially perishable foods which must be stored in the fridge or freezer.

When I bring my grocery shopping into my home, could it be contaminated with the Coronavirus? What do I have to do to make sure it is safe?
While there is some evidence that the virus can survive on hard surfaces, the risk from handling food packing is very low and there is no evidence that the illness can be transmitted in this way. However, you should always put away your shopping as soon as you get home, especially perishable foods which must be stored in the fridge or freezer.

If I deliver food to a relative in isolation, what do I have to do it make sure it’s safe?
Firstly, if you show any symptoms, you should not offer to deliver food. If you can, please follow food shopping advice above, and it might be best to leave the shopping at the door.

If I have a take-away delivered, what should I do to make sure it’s safe?
You should wash your hands before and after handling the packaging.

I have heard that sanitisers can only be used three or four times and then hands must be washed properly in hot soapy water. Is that true?
Thoroughly washing your hands with soap and water is best, but hand sanitisers are a good option when you don’t have access to soap and water, such as when you're out and about.

Can I wash my hands with cold water and soap? The kids don’t like hot water. Is that adequate?
The temperature of the water is not that significant. The most important thing is that you wash with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and dry your hands thoroughly afterwards.

Should I wash my reusable material shopping bag after each use?
It is not essential to do this, but if you prefer then you could wash a fabric bag at 60 degrees C or use a sanitizer on other shopping bags. Follow the sanitizer manufacturer’s instructions.

Should I wipe down my re-usable water bottle before every use?
Re-usable water bottles should always be washed thoroughly in hot, soapy water between uses. You should not share your water bottle with anyone. As long as you follow normal food hygiene advice there is no need to take any extra steps.

I’m cocooning and I’m worried about the safety of the food being left at my door step.
You should always put away food as soon as you can, especially perishable foods which must be stored in the fridge or freezer. While there is some evidence that the virus can survive on hard surfaces, the risk from handling food packing is very low and there is no evidence that the illness can be transmitted in this way. However you should wash your hands once you have unpacked and put away your shopping.

I’ve just done some baking and want to leave items for my neighbours. What can I do to reassure them the food I made for them is safe?
Firstly, if you show any symptoms, you should not offer to deliver food. If you are baking you should always follow good hygiene practices. You should wash your hands and surfaces often, separate raw meat from other foods, cook to the right temperature and put food in the fridge as soon as you can.

I bought too much. Is it ok to eat even if the date has expired?
You should always follow our advice on date markings on food labels. Remember the "use-by" date tells you when the food will become unsafe to eat, and the "best before" date tells you when the quality of the food will begin to deteriorate.

Should I wipe down/clean all food packaging coming into my house?
It is not necessary to sanitise the outside of food packaging. While there is some evidence that the virus can survive on hard surfaces, the risk from handling food packing is very low and there is no evidence that the illness can be transmitted in this way.
You should follow the food shopping advice above and wash your hands before and after you go food shopping, and after you unpack your shopping.

Should I wear gloves when handling food packaging when unpacking it from a shop?
Gloves can give a false sense of security. They would need to be changed very frequently to be effective. It’s better to wash your hands often and avoid touching your face.

When out food shopping, should I wear gloves and wipe down the basket/trolley I’m using?
Gloves can give a false sense of security. They would need to be changed very frequently to be effective. It’s better to wash your hands, or use hand sanitizer, and avoid touching your face. Many shops are providing sanitiser to wipe trolley handles, as this is a high contact surface.

If someone is sick should they prepare food for anyone?
If someone is sick it would be better for them not to prepare food for others. If this is unavoidable, they should wash hands frequently and follow good hygiene practices and respiratory and coughing etiquette.

If someone is sick in the house, what is the suggested hygiene with utensils and cutlery?
Utensils and cutlery should be washed in a dishwasher if possible, or washed thoroughly with hot, soapy water.


 

 



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