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CDC Issues Major COVID-19 Guideline Change That Will Affect Your Grocery Shopping

Person-to-person contact is still the most likely way to spread COVID-19, but surfaces shouldn't be discounted.
woman paying by credit card at juice bar. Focus on woman hands entering security pin in credit card reader

As we reported last week, the CDC had recently updated their guidelines on likely and unlikely ways of contracting COVID-19. Early guidelines from March had deemed the spread of coronavirus via surfaces and objects a possibility that needed further investigation, and prompted safety precautions that would minimize contact with commonly-touched surfaces when out in public.

As a result, major food retailers and restaurant chains implemented contactless payment methods, while different outlets provided guidelines on washing fresh produce and sanitizing food packaging, mail, and other commonly touched surfaces in households.

However, a recent May update on the CDC website seemed to loosen their stance on secondary transmission, listing touching surfaces and objects as an unlikely way of contracting coronavirus. But now, about a week later, the CDC is now backtracking, warning that things are still too murky to call.

The CDC's latest update on contamination via surfaces:

Following media reports outlining this seemingly updated stance on the spread of COVID-19, the CDC issued yet another update last Friday, explaining the change in wording on their website was "intended to make it easier to read, and was not a result of any new science."

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Their latest guidelines maintain that the virus is most likely to spread from person-to-person, but that it's too early to discount the possibility of secondary contamination through inanimate objects.

"It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this isn't thought to be the main way the virus spreads," the statement reads.

What does this mean?

It appears that the CDC still isn't comfortable taking a solid stance on secondary spread through surfaces and objects, and although it's a less likely way of contracting the disease, avoiding touching objects and then your face is still an important precaution.

Similarly, make sure you're washing or sanitizing your hands frequently after being out in public or handling commonly-touched objects and surfaces. Finally, don't forget about face masks—wearing one correctly is the best way to prevent person-to-person transmission in public. To keep yourself informed, make sure to sign up for our daily newsletter, and stay safe by avoiding these 7 worst grocery shopping mistakes.

Eat This, Not That! is constantly monitoring the latest food news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed (and answer your most urgent questions). Here are the precautions you should be taking at the grocery store, the foods you should have on hand, the meal delivery services and restaurant chains offering takeout you need to know about, and ways you can help support those in need. We will continue to update these as new information develops. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date.

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Mura Dominko
Mura Dominko is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!. Read more
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