Clean the groceries before you put them away
April 13, 2020

Joan Hatem-Roy, Chief Executive Officer

Q: I know the precautions we should be taking in regards to hand washing, sanitizing door knobs, countertops, light switches and any surfaces someone is coming into contact with. Hopefully social distancing has been drilled into everyone’s head and they are paying attention. Now I have heard we should be cleaning our groceries when we return home. What are they talking about?

A: As each week has passed we’ve received guidelines on how best to protect ourselves from COVID-19.

There were many unknowns when the virus was first detected in our nation. The more medical experts and scientists learned about the transmission of the virus they issued additional alerts to the general public.

One of the discoveries is related to how long the virus remains viable (alive) on various surfaces. The virus can remain active on cardboard for 24 hours and up to three days on plastic and stainless steel.

The potential risk is an infected individual may have come into contact with products in a grocery store.

Signs have been posted urging consumers to only touch items they intend to purchase.

Recommendations are once groceries are brought into the home they should be placed on a disinfected surface and all cardboard boxes or plastic bags should be wiped down with a disinfecting cloth before storing them away.

Fruits and vegetables should be washed in water as you typically would.

Once all groceries have been cleaned and put away, disinfect the surface they were placed on and wash your hands.

People should not be fearful of the food but take precautions with the packaging the food was stored in.

We are all being asked to make drastic changes in the way we live our lives.

The intent is to keep us safe and slow the spread of the virus.

We have no idea how long this pandemic will continue. Therefore adjusting and following guidelines is for everyone’s well-being.


Are you struggling caring for an older adult or having difficulty locating resources? Our staff is available for a no-cost consultation, set up at your convenience, to help guide you through your caregiving experience. For more details or to schedule an appointment, please call our Lawrence Office at 800-892-0890 or Danvers Office at 978-750-4540.

Do you have a question? We encourage inquiries and comments from our readers. Please direct your correspondence Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley and North Shore, Inc.:
Lawrence Office: Age Information Department, 280 Merrimack Street, Suite 400, Lawrence, MA 01843 or
Danvers Office: Information and Referral, 300 Rosewood Dr #200, Danvers, MA 01923 or

Joan Hatem-Roy is the Chief Executive Officer of Elder Services of Merrimack Valley and North Shore.

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