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This doctor shows us how to sanitize groceries and it’s very useful (and terrifying)

This doctor shows us how to sanitize groceries and it’s very useful (and terrifying)

The scariest thing about Covid-19 has to be how little even experts know about it. Almost daily we are learning new information about how this spreads, how long it lives on surfaces, and the people that are at risk for serious outcomes. It’s no longer just Grandma and Grandpa that we need to worry about (although, we definitely still need to be very careful around them) and hopefully, everyone now understands this is NOT just the flu. We all need to be doing our job of social distancing and only being out and about when it’s absolutely necessary.

So, when I saw this video shared by a friend in Michigan of a doctor walking through the steps needed to sterilize groceries and take out food my first thought was “this has got to be overkill, right?” In this almost 15 minute video the doctor walks the viewer through a “sterile technique” often used by medical professionals and here applied to the food being brought into the home.

In the video he walks us through:

  • the process of bringing groceries into the home
  • the process of preparing to bring groceries into the home
  • the steps to take to clean those groceries after bringing them into the home
  • the steps to take after you come home with take-out food (hint, don’t eat it in the car!)

I’m not gonna lie, this is painstaking in detail and leaves me feeling overwhelmed. The idea that we should already, or will soon need to, be this careful about any items brought into our home from the outside world has me shook. However, I could not stop thinking about it and felt a responsibility to share with anyone who lives with or is in regular contact with an immunocompromised person.

Let’s hope that this is overkill but better safe than sorry, right?


View Comments (16)
  • Thank you for taking the time to demonstrate and explain this so clearly. I am sharing this broadly, and most especially with my mid 70s parents!

  • Great suggestions, thanks so much! Do be careful not to get disinfectant on the foods you eat.

  • Loved this very informative video! Thank you so much!!!!! I am sharing it to all I know!

    • Erica – the Twitter thread you shared here was shared with us by a local reader earlier today (two days after posting) and we read through it to understand her complaint (and now yours). Keep in mind, we are not doctors, nor microbiologists and did not share this post claiming we were. We shared information from a doctor that seemed useful to those of us who aren’t.

      In the article I clearly state that I am hopeful the video is overkill and unnecessary for most people to use this technique all the time.

      Some of the complaints Dr. Shaffner expresses on Twitter seem very nitpicky to me. The video doesn’t recommend leaving perishables in the garage for 3 days and it doesn’t say that Covid-19 lives on surfaces for 17 days, only that there is uncertainty about how long it does live.

      That said, at one point Dr. Shaffner writes that his issue with the video is that it assumes all groceries are contaminated and that that assumption is untrue.

      Here I also agree, obviously that is not the case. All groceries are not contaminated.

      However, a news story out of Memphis, TN, (where I am currently located) just last night was about workers at the Kroger distribution center testing positive for Covid-19 and it has me thinking that perhaps it’s not so harmful to assume, at this uncertain time, that groceries we are picking up at our local store might in fact have been touched by someone with this disease in the last 72 hours.

      I also say in the post that I shared just in case there are people living with or caring for an immunocompromised loved one. So, while I do appreciate that scientists don’t all agree about the proper steps to be taken right now, I don’t agree that our sharing of this video was harmful and we will not be taking it down at this time.

      As for the future, we put a lot of thought into what we post and it’s usefulness to our readers. I appreciate that you are no doubt doing the same in these comments.

      Respectfully, Jen

  • This was fantastic, thank you for taking the time to make this video and answer questions that I’ve had that haven’t been addressed very clearly otherwise.

  • Thank you so much for sharing, the glitter analogy made me realize how sporadic and resilient coronavirus is. Appreciate you taking the time to do this Dr. VanWingen!

  • So sorry for your extra stress in this time of chaos.. live and health to you and your parents and thank you for all your service ❤️

  • Will spraying items with vinegar be as effective as other disinfectants? Thanks for the information..

  • I appreciate you doing this video and, for the most part, it seems very well done. I do have to nitpick one thing tho. I notice that you take an item in hand, wipe it down with the disinfecting cloth and then move it over to the clean side. BUT, if there were coronavirus on the item and you touch it, you COULD transfer virus to your finger and then back to the item you just finished wiping down. What my husband and I have been doing is, one of us wipes down the object while HOLDING on to it with a disinfecting wipe. No bare or gloved fingers touching the object, only the saturated disinfecting wipe. Then the other one of us carefully takes hold of the freshly disinfected object and move it to the clean side. The person on the clean side never touches any surface that has not been freshly disinfected.

    Imagine if the dirty object were covered with ink that transferred easily. It would get on your fingers when you picked the object up. No matter how carefully you wipe first the object, then your fingers, then the object again, UNLESS you can hold the clean object only with clean fingers, you’ll keep transferring ink back and forth.

    Yes, It takes two people to do it our way so, obviously, if one person is trying to work alone, they probably won’t be able to do quite as good a job. Maybe bringing groceries in properly has to become a “family” job.

    Thanks again for posting

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