Expert explains how to handle your produce during coronavirus epidemic

Reporter: Stephanie Byrne Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Fresh produce. Credit; via public domain.

It’s tough to eat healthy when you’re stuck inside all day. And you might worry whether typically luscious produce is safe for your family.

We spoke to an expert with a University of Florida program about the best way to handle your fruits and vegetables while grocery shopping during the coronavirus pandemic.

“The basic rules of just what we’ve always known apply,” said Andrea Nikolai with the UF/IFAS Extension Polk County.

Nikolai is the family and consumer science agent for the UF Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences location in Polk County. She is also an expert on produce.

“The CDC, USDA, FDA, they all back the same thing, is still to just do cool running water when you’re washing your produce,” Nikolai said.

That means you don’t need soap, detergent or wipes for your fruits and veggies.

But you can use a brush scrub for firmer produce like potatoes and melons and reduce bacteria.

“People have been asking me how about, you know, soaps and ‘Should I disinfect them with the wipes,’” Nikoali said. “But that stuff isn’t meant to be ingested.”

You don’t want to ingest some of the residue from those cleaning products.

So save the soap for your hands.

“Just wash your hands before you go to the store,” Nikolai said. “Stay, social distancing, that six feet away, because we know that that is how we thought the virus is mainly spread is close contact.”

Or better yet, stay at home and order online.

Another tip: There is a low risk for the virus to transfer through packaging; however, to be safe, you’re encouraged to wash your hands and avoid touching your face while shopping.

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