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The #1 Thing You Shouldn't Do in the Produce Aisle Right Now

There's no reason why you should be making this mistake.
produce aisle

There's a lot of anxiety surrounding grocery shopping these days regarding how to protect yourself from COVID-19. It seems that, despite expert advice, people are still wary about touching food and handling food packaging, thinking it's a quick ticket to infection.

But this is just not true.

That's why the worst thing you can do in the produce aisle is skip it altogether.

Although we're still relatively early in investigating what exactly can and can't transmit coronavirus, it's generally thought to be spread from person-to-person through respiratory droplets, not surfaces. There's no reason why you should be skipping the produce or fresh food section of your grocery store—especially since there's no science to back the theory that frozen fruits and veggies have been packaged in a safer manner than fresh ones.

Both the CDC and FDA say there's no evidence of COVID-19 being spread through food or food packaging, and that we shouldn't fear handling cans, bags, or food itself when in the grocery store. If you get sick after a visit to your local grocery store, you likely contracted it through an infected person, not the food on the shelves. That is, unless you touched a contaminated item and then touched your face. This is one reason experts are drilling hand-washing and face mask-wearing into our collective heads.

Coronavirus or not, rinsing fruit and veggies with cold water and scrubbing those with tougher skins is always a good practice, says the FDA. This applies to those with skins and rinds that are typically not eaten, such as peppers and oranges. Also, make sure to clean the lids of canned goods before opening.

Another precaution you can take to make sure you stay safe: Try to keep at least six feet from others shopping in the produce department, which is usually a free-for-all with several stands of produce strewn about (unlike aisles, which are often equipped with floor markings to conform to social distancing guidelines).

We all need fresh fruits and vegetables right now to keep our immune systems healthy. Don't make the mistake of bypassing these foods at your supermarket under the guise of safety. You aren't doing yourself any favors. Just make sure to take the proper precautions.

For more, check out these 22 foods nutritionists eat to boost their immune systems.

Ami Hanson
Ami Hanson is a food and wine writer based in Seattle. Read more