Should you wipe down your food or packages? What the FDA is saying now

NBC consumer correspondent Vicky Nguyen shares the latest guidelines for handling grocery items, cardboard boxes and more.

Get the latest from TODAY

Sign up for our newsletter
SUBSCRIBE
/ Source: TODAY
By Scott Stump and Vicky Nguyen

Amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, many consumers have become increasingly concerned about shopping for groceries in stores. If you've been nervous about getting the highly contagious virus from food or other packages that you don't wipe down, the Food and Drug Administration has some reassuring news.

The FDA recently reiterated guidelines advising shoppers that there is a very low risk of the virus being transmitted in this way because there are no confirmed reports or any evidence that it's possible to get coronavirus from food or food packaging.

"We want to reassure consumers that there is currently no evidence of human or animal food or food packaging being associated with transmission of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19,'' the FDA wrote in a news release. "This particular coronavirus causes respiratory illness and is spread from person-to-person, unlike foodborne gastrointestinal or GI viruses, such as norovirus and hepatitis A that often make people ill through contaminated food."

Download the TODAY app for the latest coverage on the coronavirus outbreak

"You're really more likely to get it from going to the grocery store and touching a dirty handle or doorknob and then touching your face," NBC investigative and consumer correspondent Vicky Nguyen said on TODAY Monday.

The FDA has reiterated guidelines that there is a low risk of getting coronavirus from food or food packaging. TODAY

While the FDA says there's a low risk of getting coronavirus from groceries or packaging, Nguyen had some tips for those looking to take extra precautions.

  • When you get home, use a disinfectant wipe on food packaging. Make sure you don't use any such wipes on the food itself.
  • Leave your groceries out for 24 hours, or more, to kill any live virus that may be on package surfaces.
  • If you are unable to perform the first two steps, put the groceries away and wash your hands thoroughly immediately afterward.

"Just remember, the main modes of transmission are going to be coughing and sneezing, being in close proximity with other people or touching those high-touch surfaces when you're out and about," Nguyen said.

Nguyen also shared guidelines about how to treat other surfaces that may be coming into your home in order to stay safe during the pandemic. All of these surfaces are considered very unlikely or low risk for transmitting the coronavirus, according to studies and health experts.

NBC investigative and consumer correspondent Vicky Nguyen provided guidelines for how to handle takeout containers. TODAY

Takeout containers

  • After receiving your order, place the packaging in the sink, take the food out with utensils and put it on a clean plate.
  • Clean the utensils, throw away packaging, then wash your hands thoroughly.
  • Use another set of utensils to eat.

Clothing and shoes

  • Practice social distancing while running essential errands to reduce the chance of viral particles clinging to your clothing.
  • If someone sneezes or coughs on your hair or clothes while you are out, you should change clothes and wash your hair immediately upon returning home.
  • Use one pair of shoes when you go outside and leave those shoes at the door when you come back inside.
  • If the shoes are washable, wash them periodically.

Cardboard packaging

  • Leave the package outside for more than 24 hours.
  • If you cannot do that, wash your hands immediately after handling it
  • Open the box, dump the contents into a clean area, throw away the packaging and then wash your hands again before touching interior contents.

Mail

  • Once you've opened the mail and looked at the contents, wash your hands. Throw away anything you don't need.