Everyone goes grocery shopping and wherever there are humans, there are microorganisms — and while some are harmless, others can make you sick. Here are 10 things you can do on your next grocery store run to minimize your risk of coming into contact with unsafe germs.
Wipe Down Shopping Cart Handles
Most germs are transmitted by human hands, and the first things your hands touch are the shopping cart or basket handles. Before grabbing your vessel, wipe it down with the sanitizing wipes provided at the entrance of the store, or bring your own wipes if none are available.
Wash Your Bags at Home Between Trips
If you’re using a reusable bag it can get mighty germy in between uses. The juice of raw meat (and the bacteria that comes with it) could be lingering in the bag, and after several uses, it could get worse. Toss the bags in the washing machine in between trips to the market, or wipe them down with soap and water between uses. You can also minimize germs in your reusable bags by labeling your bags for use. For example, raw meat, produce and milk and dairy.
Examine Your Fresh Produce
It’s practically essential to squeeze or touch produce to decide which item you want to buy, but the way germs can enter fresh fruit or vegetable is through cracks, holes or an opening in the produce. Examine your fresh fruit and vegetables before buying to pick items that are free of openings. And, place fresh produce in plastic bags, so they don’t touch the cart directly.
Avoid Packaged Products with Rips or Tears
All cans, packaged and boxed foods can be introduced to germs if they are damaged. Examine canned goods and avoid those with leaks, swollen tops or those that are damp. Packaged and boxed foods can also be exposed to germs when they have tears or holes. Always examine packaged foods to ensure they are not damaged before adding them to your cart.
Skip Free Samples
If you’re looking to avoid germs at the supermarket, skip the free samples. Although the person handing them out may be wearing gloves, the food has been previously handled (usually to divide the sample into smaller portions), which gives germs a greater opportunity to get in there.
Separate Ready-to-Eat and Raw Foods
The germs from the raw foods like meat and fish can be cross-contaminated to the ready-to-eat foods like fresh produce and packaged goods if they’re stored in the same bag. With no opportunity to cook ready-to-eat foods, you’re at risk of ingesting germs that have transferred to them from the raw foods in the same grocery bag or cart. When shopping, separate the raw meats, poultry and fish from the ready-to-eat foods like produce, bread and other items that will not be cooked any further. You can place them in separate sides of the shopping cart and then pack them into separate grocery bags.
Watch Those Self-Check-Out Screens
Everyone’s fingers are touching that self-check-out screen and scan-as-you-go guns. It’s just another way to easily transmit germs from one person to the other. Save a sanitizing wipe to wipe down the self-check-out screen or scanner gun before use, or use hand sanitizer after you finishing paying.
Credit Card Machines Are No Better
You’ll need to touch the screen with a finger or stylus that everyone has touched in order to pay with a credit card. You can wipe the screen and stylus down before using or use hand sanitizer after you finish paying.
Bring Hand Sanitizer
Tote a container of your own hand sanitizer or sanitizing wipes with you to the market in case sanitizing wipes aren’t available. You can sanitize your hands after doing a task that may contaminate them (like at the self-check-out) or before you get into your car.
Wash Your Hands When You Get Home
There’s no better way to get rid of germs than washing your hands. When you get home, the first thing you should do is wash your hands with warm water, lather for at least 20 seconds with soap washing in between your fingers and under your nails, rinse the soap off, and then dry on a single-use paper towel or clean towel. Remember, if you use a cloth towel to dry your hands, it should be washed regularly.