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7 Grocery Store Mistakes You Can Easily Avoid

Worried about spreading germs? Here’s how to prevent it next time you’re shopping for food.
grocery shopping

Going to the grocery store is essential, but during the coronavirus pandemic, it can also be nerve-wracking. Especially when you have no idea if the safety precautions you're taking at the grocery store are working or not, or if you feel like you're making all the wrong mistakes while walking down the aisles. Do not fret, we rounded up a few grocery store mistakes that you can easily avoid right now during the pandemic. That way you can feel confident about keeping yourself—and those around you—safe and healthy.


Not wearing a mask.

woman with protective mask reading label on the bottle while buying hand soap in the supermarket during virus epidemic

It may not seem like that mask is doing much, but if you look at how far a cough can travel in a grocery store, it's absolutely worth wearing one. The CDC recommends for people to wear a cloth covering in public places, which definitely includes the grocery store. So do yourself and other shoppers a huge favor by keeping that mask on.

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Not wiping down your cart.

Man wearing disposable medical face mask wipes the shopping cart handle with a disinfecting cloth in supermarket

Did you know that the grocery cart handle is one of the germiest spots of the grocery store? It's true! According to a study done by, out of all the bacteria on that shopping cart handle, an average of 75 percent of gram-negative rods. These are harmful bacteria that tend to be resistant to antibodies. The best way to avoid the spread of any germs or virus is to wipe down that grocery cart (or basket) before you begin shopping. So make sure to wipe that handle down before even entering the store, along with these precautions to take before walking into the store.


Touching the produce.

Woman holding lettuce and grabbing more produce at the grocery store

We know you just want to find the perfect avocado…but think about it. If you're constantly touching other produce and putting it back, then other customers are doing the same, who knows how many germs are on that avocado by the time the customer pays for that particular fruit or vegetable. Instead, use your eyes instead of your hands to scope out the best avocado and only grab the one you intend on buying.

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Touching your phone.

scrolling on a phone
Paul Hanaoka/Unsplash

Studies have shown that your phone's touch screen can be a breeding place for germs, and during the pandemic, it's no different. If numerous people use their phones when looking at virtual grocery lists, that means sanitizing your hands is absolutely pointless since you're picking up those germs again on your phone. It may be smart to go to good 'ol pen and paper grocery lists at the store instead.


Paying with cash.

cash transaction

Your phone isn't the only germy thing in your bag! Another item that typically holds numerous germs is your cash. It may not seem like it, but the cash in your wallet can actually host a myriad of diseases. Paying with card is much safer, and for even more safety, trying using a non-contact paying method like Apple Pay, since it's the safest way to pay for groceries right now.


Not washing your produce bags.

reusable grocery bag with fruits veggies spilling out

Did you know that one study actually found the average reusable grocery bag to carry coliform bacteria and E.Coli? It's true, and it's easily avoidable. Between every grocery store trip it's important to run your bags through the washer so you can not only avoid the spread of any virus, but prevent any food contamination to happen with your groceries.


Touching germy spots.


How many times have you leaned against those bumpers in the freezer section to grab something? Well, if you think about all of the other customers that are doing that, then it's no wonder that those bumpers are considered one of the germiest spots in the grocery store. You can easily stop making these grocery store mistakes by avoiding those germy hot spots in the store—like refrigerator doors and self-checkout stations.

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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Kiersten Hickman
Kiersten Hickman is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, specializing in recipe development, food, and diet coverage. Read more