Cooking while #stayingathome? Here are Food Safety Tips to Keep in Mind

Jordana Weiss

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Coronaviruses, such as the one that causes COVID-19, spread from person-to-person through respiratory droplets, like those from a cough or sneeze. Currently, no evidence supports food-associated transmission of these viruses, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease and Prevention. But good food hygiene can help keep you and your household immune-strong to fight off other germs.  

Where to start? You guessed right:  wash your hands for 20 seconds--about the time to sing Happy Birthday--with soap and water. The CDC reminds us to do this after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing, or going to the bathroom.

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Because of the poor ability of coronaviruses to survive on surfaces, the likelihood is very low that they could spread from packaging shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient, refrigerated, or frozen temperatures. However, if you bring groceries home or have them delivered, you can wipe them down to address how these items may have been handled at the store. 

Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN recommends wiping items down creating separate dirty and clean zones on your counter. As you wipe down the cans or containers, place the items in the clean zone. His video also shares how to teach you kids about germs --with glitter-- and to safely remove any disposable gloves you may be wearing. If you used dish-washing gloves, wash your gloved hands with, you guessed it, soap and water before removing.  Then wash your hands again.

Remember as well to keeping raw meats, seafood, and poultry separate from other foods and refrigerated until ready to cook to the right temperature.  When you prepare foods, remember to use separate cutting boards, utensils and areas for raw foods that must be cooked. If you cook with help from online sources in the kitchen, wipe down those screens, pads and phones.

Perishable produce should also go into your fridge but its ok to keep uncut veggies and fruits out as long as you wash before using.  

And, the CDC notes that room-temperature bacteria can multiply rapidly, as well as the  “Danger Zone” between 40°F and 140°F. "Never leave perishable food out for more than 2 hours (or 1 hour if it’s hotter than 90°F outside)," the agency notes.

For more on Food Safety, visit the CDC.