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Expect This Change to the Produce Aisle at Your Grocery Store

In order to keep everyone safe and healthy, this area may soon get a makeover.
Man wearing disposable medical mask shopping in supermarket during coronavirus pneumonia outbreak

Shopping at the grocery store during the coronavirus pandemic can be a stressful endeavor. And even though there are ways of protecting yourself while shopping, changes to the shopping experience are coming. One, in particular, will make the produce section look completely different in the future: prepackaged produce.

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Although the FDA says there is no evidence that the virus can live on food, the founder of SupermarketGuru.com and a 30-year grocery trend expert, Phil Lempert, says you won't be able to squeeze avocados or apples, knock on cantaloupes and watermelon, or pick up potatoes or tomatoes to inspect them up close ever again. Maybe you saw this happening before the pandemic, but in the future, you should expect more packaged fresh produce than produce out in the open where it can be touched by anyone. This could help keep customers and employees safe.

"I think the entire store is going to be reimagined," Lempert told the Chicago Sun-Times in an interview. "People used to love going to the stores and seeing their friends. A lot of that is over."

His predictions also include fewer products on the shelves and more "click-and-collect" orders where customers choose prepackaged items online before shopping in person. They then come into the store to select fresh produce, meat, fish, bread, and more while robots in the back prepare the order.

Other safety changes that could be coming in order to make the space inside grocery stores safer, since indoor, high-trafficked and poorly ventilated areas are known for allowing the virus to spread easier. Some of these include plexiglass and antimicrobial conveyor belts at the checkout stations, more self check-out stations, wider aisles, hand sanitizing stations, and possibly no more produce scales or salad bars.

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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.
Amanda McDonald
Amanda McDonald is a health and food writer and a certified yoga instructor. Read more
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