Health & Lifestyle

Covid-19 Myth: Washing Fruits & Vegetables with Soap is Safe; Read USDA, Other Experts Opinion

Tooba Maher
Tooba Maher

The covid-19 has affected our lives in almost every way. During this sensitive time, there are number of questions which may be running in your mind. Are fruits & vegetables at the local market contaminated? Are they safe to be consumed or did someone with the coronavirus infection sneezed on those juicy fruits?

Fact Check:

Now, the truth is, there’s no such evidence suggesting that the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) can be transmitted by food or food packaging. However, some experts warned that there’s still a risk of getting sick if by any chance you pick an object an infected person has sneezed or coughed on.

Question is should you wash your fruits & veggies with soap and water to prevent COVID-19? Is really required? Experts said it’s not a good idea to use chemicals on fruits and veggies. Rather, people should wash produce as they would with running water. Consuming soaps and detergents can lead to gastrointestinal infection with nausea or stomach upset & can make you sick.

Felicia Goulet-Miller, an instructor of microbiology at Florida Gulf Coast University, told USA Today that “Those soaps and detergents are designed for washing hands or for washing dishes and they’re not designed for washing food.”

According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), consumers should not wash fruits and vegetables with detergent or soap as these products are not approved by the US FDA for use on foods. During this time, the internet is flooded with unscientific advice, such as using a dilute bleach solution or vinegar to wash fruits & veggies.

A professor and food safety specialist at North Carolina State University, Benjamin Chapman, told Live Science that there’s no scientific proof that any of these works. He said, “Using ingesting bleach can be perilous. We’ve known for 60 years that there are toxicity issues about consuming household dish soaps.”

How to wash fruits and vegetables safely during covid-19?

As per experts, one should rinse fresh produce with running cold water before eating them. This may help to remove 90-99 per cent of any contamination. It is also recommended to wash fruits such as banana and other foods, which have a peel, before consuming them.

Francisco Diez-Gonzalez, director of the Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia quoted, “Even if the fruit has a peel, you must wash it first as touching it could contaminate your hands & you could then infect yourself as you eat that delicious banana.”

The most important is hand hygiene. A safer method to handle foods and groceries (during pandemic or not) is to wash your hands with soap and water, & use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser. The CDC recommends that if you are handling, preparing and serving food then you should always adhere to ‘safe food handling procedures’, washing hands & surfaces regularly.

Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water to reduce the risk of contracting infections, including the coronavirus. Avoid handling or preparing food if you’re sick to prevent the spread of germs.

Hope this article helps our readers to deal with this difficult time. Share your comments below.

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