DON’T FEAR FRUITS AND VEGGIES AS VIRUS FEARS GRIP THE NATION
Supermarkets, with their open displays of fruits and vegetables, are a reminder that the U.S. has one of the safest and most abundant food supplies in the world. However, in the face of the global COVID-19 viral outbreak, many worry whether fresh produce is safe to eat.
According to Amanda Deering with Purdue University’s department of food science, current research indicates that the virus is not foodborne or food-transmitted.
“The virus that causes COVID-19 appears to be transmitted just like other viruses,” Deering said. “This is very positive, in that the same practices that we normally use to reduce contamination risk — such as washing your hands and washing fruits and vegetables before eating them — should reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19.”
In fact, the agricultural practices that many farmers follow already help reduce the risk of contamination by a human pathogen, according to Scott Monroe.
“While viruses may be transmitted from surfaces, most growers take steps to prevent contamination,” said Monroe, a Purdue Extension food safety educator. “At this point, fear of COVID-19 should not be a reason to stop purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables.”
Eating fresh fruits and vegetables has been shown to improve overall health, including the immune system. And staying healthy increases your body’s ability to fight infections. By taking a few common-sense precautions — like frequent hand-washing and washing your produce — you can continue to enjoy the health benefits of fresh fruits and vegetables without worrying too much about COVID-19.
TO FURTHER REDUCE THE RISK OF CONTRACTING THE VIRUS, DEERING AND MONROE OFFER THE FOLLOWING TIPS:
- Wash your hands frequently. After a trip to the supermarket, wash your hands — especially if you handled tongs or other shared utensils.
- Try not to manipulate produce. While shoppers often squeeze or thump melons, for example, or otherwise touch produce in search of the best or ripest pieces, doing so can increase the chance germs are passed to or from the produce.
- Immunocompromised people should consider purchasing pre-packaged fruits and vegetables, or only eat cooked fruits and vegetables.
- Always wash your produce before you eat it.