Hello Reddit!

I’m Angela Anandappa, Director for the Alliance for Advanced Sanitation (a nonprofit organization working to better food safety and hygienic design in the food industry) as well as a food microbiologist for over 20 years.

Many are having questions or doubts on how to best stay safe in regard to the coronavirus, especially in relation to the use of sanitizers and cleaning agents, as well as with how to clean and store food.

During such a time of crisis, it is very easy to be misled by a barrage of misinformation that could be dangerous or deadly. I’ve seen many of my friends and family easily fall prey to this misinformation, especially as it pertains to household cleaning and management as well as grocery shopping.

I’m doing this AMA to hopefully help many of you redditors by clearing up any misinformation, providing an understanding as to the practices of the food industry during this time, and to give you all a chance to ask any questions about food safety in regard to the coronavirus.

I hope that you learn something helpful during this AMA, and that you can clear up any misinformation that you may hear in regard to food safety by sharing this information with others.

Proof: http://www.sanitationalliance.org/events/

AMA!

Edit: Wow! What great questions! Although I’d love to answer all of them, I have to go for today. I’ve tried to respond to many of your questions. If your question has yet to be answered (please take a look at some of my other responses in case someone has asked the same question) I will try to answer some tomorrow or in a few hours. Stay healthy and wash your hands!

Comments: 1208 • Responses: 49  • Date: 

Badslay636 karma

Are there any special precautions to take upon receiving a grocery delivery? And anything special regarding handling of the plastic or paper bags the groceries themselves came in?

Angela_Anandappa1841 karma

Once you receive your grocery delivery promptly put the items away into the place where you would normally store them. If you have cold or frozen items put them in the fridge or freezer. Treat your hands as being contaminated so assume that while you are handling the items your hands should not touch your face. Be sure to wash your hands as soon as your are done putting things always so no virus gets on your face, nose or eyes. It is unlikely that viral particles are all over the groceries being delivered, but thinking they are means you will take the precautions to prevent you from getting sick. The bigger issue is not the mere presence of the intact virus on the package, but the transfer of it from there into a person (your nose in particular). Viral particles being present is not the same as the virus being active and able to reproduce and make you sick. You may have seen that the virus was detected on surfaces well over two weeks later (cruise ship). However, these were not found to have been the cause of illness. My friend and fellow food safety expert used this analogy. "Just because you see solo cups and plates from last week's party, it does not mean the party is happening today".

takeflight61292 karma

When I got groceries today, I put away the plastic bags to use after a week. With soap and water, I washed the plastic milk bottle. I washed the outer plastic packing on my shredded cheese, etc. Did I go overboard? I'm also not sure what to do about the packaging for bread since it isn't water tight and I don't want soapy bread lol.

Angela_Anandappa547 karma

Yes, you went overboard.

As long as you store these items in their respective places they will be fine. Make sure you wash your hands because that's how virus is transported to your face and nose.

If you feel you want to wash the exterior of thebottle of milk or packged cheese, soap and water is the right way to do it. No need of disinfectants.

Bread, I woud leave alone and just use a clean hand to handle the bread itself when you are about to eat it.

Badslay5 karma

Excellent info, thank you. Regarding the plastic or paper shopping bags the groceries come in, we usually save the and reuse for trash, recycling, etc.

Should we stop that altogether for now? Or if they “rest” for a time (1-2wks), would they be safe to use?

Angela_Anandappa21 karma

I am also using plastic bags as trash bags when I get them, but I do not use them for other things normally. The reason is that they are hard to track and you cannot know what you transported in them before. Unfortunately plastic bags are typically not recyclable.

zeeper25-2 karma

while not probable, surface-to-face transmission is certainly possible and should be considered as such.

The coronavirus lives longer in cold vs hot environments. Thus tossing your groceries into the freezer may prolong the viability of any virus on them.

I don't think most people will contract it from their groceries or deliveries, but your information conflicts with what I consider to be more informed sources specifically related to the coronavirus:

https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/study-suggests-new-coronavirus-may-remain-surfaces-days

https://youtu.be/otl55TejBEE

viruses are not bacteria, be careful which advice you provide if it falls outside of your wheelhouse.

Angela_Anandappa8 karma

Bacteria are not viruses. Please refer to my response to Phototos and refer to Virology 101.

Food safety is a applied combined field where professionals evaluate actual risks to food based on data and apply NIH findings, lots of research, USDA and FDA findings and recommendations, together with food processing knowledge, knowledge of transportation, storage, handling, packaging, and a supported by variety of sources of data. Yes the coronavirus can remain on surfaces and be preserved in freezing temperatures. The conditions of freezing for the virus to be viable for making someone sick are not simply your grocery freezer. So while NIH has data about the prevalence of viral particles on surfaces, we also know that those particles have a half life (like radioactive substances) and the conditions for that particle to get it from the packaging to the person are facilitated by the person.

Hence the recommendation to clean and lots of hand washing.

JoyousCacophony67 karma

This is really the one I want answered! With a few underlying conitions, I'm no longer leaving the house and have delivery for everything. Once I receive it, I end up spending a ton of time to wipe everything down with clorox wipes :(

I don't know if it's needed, or if I'm doing just enough... Would love actual info. The last article I read, said to leave non-perisables outside for 3 days! That seems a bit much and not really good for the food.

Angela_Anandappa224 karma

See my response above (to Badslay). I hope that clarifies. Although some items are not perishable, many foods should not be left outside where the conditions are unpredictable or temperatures fluctuate. Wiping everything with Clorox is not only tedious, but it is also futile if the risks of the items being contaminated are low. With groceries the risks are indeed very low. I would advise you to spend your time keeping your home clean, in particular the refrigerator. Maintain a zone of clean within your home. In my home that means leaving shoes and coats neat the entrance.

I also maintain my kitchen counters as clean zones. That means no bag of groceries get laid on the counter. It goes on the floor. When I'm ready to unpack it, I take things out and place them where they should go and wash hands afterwards.

TedWinston58 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA. I like the idea of not wiping down all the groceries and just treating your zones and hands as if they are contaminated (that is, washing thoroughly, not touching your face, etc.). But if you are just putting the groceries where they go (pantry, fridge, whatever), isn't there risk that someone else in the household who is less meticulous — and we're all living with someone like that! — may take hold of the package within the next few hours? I guess I'm still not clear on why you wouldn't wipe them down — as much as I"d prefer to believe it's not necessary.

Angela_Anandappa102 karma

I understand your concern. If you wish to wipe the down and disinfect there are two important things to do. 1) Use a soap and water wash solution if possible. This is preferred but all packaging will not be suitable for this. 2) If you use a disinfectant, be sure you follow the manufacturer’s directions. Most people do not and they have no more than a placebo effect. To disinfect, Clorox wipes for example, must be used to stay visible wet on the surface being wiped for 4 minutes. See the wipes you have at home and follow those directions.

bodhigoatgirl10 karma

I want this one answering too. I debated taking every out of the packaging outside, my daughter is high risk.

Angela_Anandappa13 karma

Please see my comment above to KillhappyJenn Hope this helps. I wish you well this season.

Angela_Anandappa19 karma

Please do not follow this YouTube video. See my comments above regarding this misleading video.

kaltorak10 karma

most of that is unnecessary, see this thread

https://twitter.com/bugcounter/status/1243319180851580929

Angela_Anandappa8 karma

Yes! I agree with Dr. Schaffner.

AfraidofFollowers294 karma

Hi, what is the best way to wash fruits and veggies? What foods are hard to clean or hold germs the most? What safety precautions can we take in the grocery stores? Does cooking foods kill germs and at what temps?

Thank you so much for taking your time to do this.

Angela_Anandappa493 karma

Lots of great food safety questions, relevant for anytime.

I’ll break down my answer to each of your questions:

What is the best way to wash fruits and veggies?

The best way to wash fruits and veggies is to wash them in water. Not all produce has the same outer cell characteristics, for instance raspberries are much more delicate than a pineapple. Produce that comes pre-washed and packaged has been washed in a way that removes the vast majority of anything you should not eat. Follow the package instruction which might sometimes recommend washing or rinsing prior to consuming. This is particularly important for things like leafy green salads that are eaten raw.

Always wash fruits like apples, pears, grapes, nectarines, etc. that have a thin outer skin. Wash them in a bowl of warm water, or preferably under running water.

For fruits like watermelons, cantaloupes, and honeydew melons, they are eaten raw, but grown right in the field and spend a lot of time near the ground. These items need a good scrub with warm running water, and you should use a produce brush to scrub the outside thoroughly before you cut them open. Something to think of with these items is the cleanliness of the knife and cutting board you are using. If the outside of the item could be dirty, you don’t want that knife to transfer things from the outside to the inside, the part of the fruit you will eat.

NEVER SOAK produce. Many fruits and leafy greens can absorb water and soaking them facilitates viruses and bacteria getting inside.

What foods are hard to clean or hold germs the most?

If it’s grown close to the soil and in open fields (a lot of produce is), then assume it needs a good wash in water to clean. I’m referring to fresh produce in general.

What safety precautions can we take in the grocery stores?

If you’re referring to staying safe while you shop, it’s mostly about making sure you don’t touch anything that is contaminated or being exposed to someone who is sick and shedding. It is a good idea to assume you are sick, and reduce the times you will contaminate things (don’t touch things you are not going to buy). Reduce the number of trips to the store, make shopping trips short, and wash your hands and face as soon as you return. If you’ve got kids, the kids should be left at home if possible and when you come back home don’t run to hug or touch anyone before you remove outer clothes, and wash your hands thoroughly.

Does cooking foods kill germs and at what temps?

Yes cooking kills or reduces pathogens making them safe to eat. The temperatures depend on the food, and how long you cook them. There’s a lot of great information on the FDA or USDA websites for specific temperatures. I will add some links to general cooking temps on the Alliance website in the next couple of days.

Valdanos10 karma

Are fruits like apples safe to eat though, considering the first thing people do when they approach the display is start picking up and handling the fruit to look for blemishes? Is a rinse in running water enough to clean any viral particles that may be on the edible surface of the fruit?

Angela_Anandappa23 karma

Always wash apples, and if you prefer you can use a produce wash then rinse again. Always end with a clean water rinse. It’s enough to remove viral particles.

SeerPumpkin200 karma

Is there anything I should absolutely avoid during this time? Is takeout food safe if one person in the kitchen is sick, for example? Thanks for the time you're taking to do this and for the answers!

Angela_Anandappa698 karma

Great question!

Many people are ordering takeout (I did too!). When I order takeout I want to be sure the food itself it going to be safe. So firstly, I order from a place I already trust. This is not the time to explore new options. Currently, health departments are recommending many things to keep restaurant workers safe and prevent sick workers from handling food. There’s less of a likelihood of someone being sick and still working with food. That said, let’s assume someone who is actively shedding virus and asymptomatic is handling the food or packages. What we know of the virus is that it is not transmitted by food. If there is virus on the package, there needs to be a high enough amount of the virus (viral particles), and then those particles have to get into your respiratory system for you to get sick. So, if you touched the package and enough viral particles got on your hands, you could still not be affected by those particles if you do not let them get in your system. This is why there’s such as huge emphasis on hand washing. When I picked up takeout a few days ago, I brought the package home, took out the sandwiches, and placed them on the table. I then washed my hands (20 seconds with soap and water and lots of scrubbing!) and then I ate the sandwich like I normally would. In summary, make sure that you are washing your hands before and after picking up the takeout, washing hands before eating, and not licking or eating the packaging.

mmm_toasty143 karma

Do you think there is any risk in getting food delivered?

Angela_Anandappa322 karma

I do not. In fact I will be placing an order this evening. If you can stay at home you limit your exposure to every other person in the store or on the way to the store who could potentially be aerosolizing virus. So your risk of being infected go down (a lot). When someone brings the food to you, make sure you are getting things from a reliable source who is taking good care of food safety and their people. When you receive the items, receive them, put them away as usual, then wash your hands. Do not be handling delivered things and touching your face and nose and mouth while handling those items. If you need to sneeze, use your elbow.

mmm_toasty106 karma

Do you have any recommendations regarding sanitizing prepackaged or delivered foods, like Trader Joe's frozen meals, for example?

Angela_Anandappa189 karma

Frozen food should go from the freezer in the store, to your home freezer as soon as possible. There is no need to sanitize any of the packages. The risk of having any viral particles on the surface of the package is low. However, I would advise you to open the package, remove your items from it just before you need to use it, and then wash your hands before handling the food itself. That way anything on the packaging will be washed off. Use soap and water, that’s enough, but if you want to use a hand sanitizer use it after you wash your hands and before you handle the food.

ArniePalmys49 karma

I read the FDA found Corona viruses of past to last up to 2 years in a freezer. Is this something to think about? Make sure to do a monthly wipe down of the freezer and items etc?

blortorbis116 karma

This is likely just RNA and not active virus

Angela_Anandappa237 karma

Exactly! Just because we can detect RNA does not mean it can do anything to us.

pn_dubya96 karma

Is coffee hot enough to kill a virus if the barista contaminated it?

Angela_Anandappa254 karma

Coffee is typically brewed close to boiling temperature (water boils, then cools down during the time brewing occurs). The deactivation temperature for the SARS virus (WHO) is 56 degrees Centigrade, much lower than boiling point. As long as you are getting hot brewed coffee, the viral particles in the coffee or coffee cup will be deactivated. Say your barista was sick and contaminated the outside of the cup, then be sure to remove the lid (takeout coffee), and assume your hands have virus on them (wash your hands and you’ll be fine). The coffee is safe to drink.

Phototos84 karma

Do you agree with everything in Dr. Jeffrey VanWingen's video? Do you have anything to add?

Angela_Anandappa271 karma

I disagree with many of the principles that he builds his video upon as they are misguided. Many other food safety experts who are in the field and are microbiologists who understand food on a deep level also disagree with much in the video. It is very unfortunate that his video was shared so many times spreading misinformation.

I wrote this article addressing a few things in the video and hope you would read it. I've also pasted this into another comment.

1) Virology 101 – Viruses are neither dead nor alive. We consider them alive when they are active and reproducing and non-living at other times. They are made of DNA or RNA (SARS-CoV-2 is an RNA virus) surrounded by a protein sheath. They NEED a living cell to reproduce. That means that, without appropriate living cells to hijack, they cannot replicate when sitting on a counter. Or cardboard. Or steel. Or plastic. Or really any other surface that isn’t alive, for that matter. We know for sure that this virus is a human coronavirus, and we have no evidence for other hosts, so unless the virus is in a human, or in human cells we can be pretty confident it isn’t reproducing.

2) You may have heard that the virus can survive in aerosols for 3 hours and on some surfaces, for up to 10-17 days. If it is aerosolized, like it would be in a sneeze, the droplets can be inhaled and you can get sick. However, there is currently no evidence that any viral particles found on surfaces have caused illness through skin contact alone. This means you can’t get sick just from touching an object, and that you need to transfer the viral particles into an entry point in your body. This is why the CDC recommends that you don’t touch your face, your nose or eyes and that you must wash hands diligently and thoroughly. These are entry points areas that easily pick up and transfer viruses into your mucosal membranes. So, picking your nose, rubbing your eyes, licking your fingers are not advised.

3) Plan your shopping trip and get everything you need from the fewest number of stores as possible. Use a disinfecting wipe or spray sanitizer on the cart and wipe down all the parts you will touch. If you touch parts that are not properly disinfected, any viral particles that could be there from a previous customer have can be transferred to your hands.

4) Purchase fresh produce, frozen fruits, veggies, and anything that you can prep, store, and freeze quickly for later use. Frozen produce is a healthy option to extend the time between shopping trips. There is no known

5) Purchase fresh produce, frozen fruits, veggie, and anything that you can prep, store, and freeze quickly. Frozen produce is a healthy option to extend the time between shopping trips.

6) Put away food in the proper storage conditions promptly. i) Hot items should be kept hot, quickly consumed, and leftovers put away quickly. ii) Cold items should be promptly placed in the refrigerator or freezer, as appropriate. iii) Sealed items that are stored at room temperature should be stored in a pantry where temperature does not dramatically fluctuate; do not leave them in the car or garage.

7) If you wish to disinfect the surface of any items you purchase, be sure to use an appropriate method. Here’s where following instructions is critical; if you don’t, you are pouring chemicals into the water system, wasting money and products, and not actually disinfecting anything. As a matter of protocol cleaning comes first followed by disinfecting.

To clean, you can use an all-purpose chemical cleaner OR detergent and water with a clean cloth or paper towel. Cleaning includes scrubbing with detergent (soap) and making sure all the detergent is rinsed off completely with clean water. Simple: yes. Effective: also yes. Kitchen counters, cabinets and all other surfaces in the kitchen should be cleaned as usual and no additional step are necessary if you feel confident you’ve done a good job of cleaning.

Disinfection requires a chemical to disinfectant and remove any remaining pathogens (if any) and virus particles. Again, if you cleaned well, you really do not need to use this step. It’s an additional precaution. To use a sanitizer or disinfectant, you must follow all the manufacturer’s directions. For example, Lysol must be sprayed on the entire surface and allowed to remain on the surface for 3 minutes. Ideally, allow it 10 minutes to dry. For the novel coronavirus, use any disinfectant from this CDC recommended EPA approved list. https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2
8) Fresh produce should not be washed with soap. Any fresh produce you purchase should be washed (do not soak) in a bowl of warm water (use a produce brush to scrub the surface) and then rinse with warm running water. If you live in a part of the country with no city water supply, you could prepare a 100ppm chlorine rinse for fruits. Fruits with a harder skin (eg: oranges, watermelons) may withstand more rigorous scrubbing and a hot water rinse for added safety.

9) Fresh produce should never ever be directly placed in a sink. No matter how well you believe you clean, sinks and refrigerators are some of the dirtiest places in a home. Studies have shown sinks harbor Salmonella, E.coli, other pathogenic bacteria, and viruses. Sink cleanliness has less to do with the appearance of cleanliness and more to do with the construction of the sink, joints, caulk points, and the stainless steel being beaten up over time and creating microscopic crevices where bacteria find harbor.

10) Proper handwashing for 20 seconds includes scrubbing between fingers, under and around nails, and on the back of the hands, which is incredibly important. If you wish to use a hand sanitizer, apply it thoroughly, cover all the surfaces, and allow to dry. Do not wipe. Many Coronavirus patients experience digestive discomfort and diarrhea and shed the virus in their stool. This makes handwashing for patients and healthy people critical for preventing the spread. Watch out for people who aren’t washing their hands! Make sure we’re all being sanitary (just in general a good thing).

11) I also recommend washing your face, hands, and any parts of the arm exposed while you were out shopping. Wash with soap and water. Handwashing is the barrier between every step of transporting the virus from one place to another.

12) Do not take food out of its original packaging until you are ready to use it or have a need to store in a different container. Original packaging preserves the food for the longest duration and provides you another way to extend the time between shopping events.

13) Work with the assumption that it is your hands that transport viral particles to your face, nose and mouth. Wash your hands thoroughly after handling all items coming from the grocery store, put them in their appropirate storage places, and then wash your hands again. When it’s time to use these items retrieve them, open the packages and place the items into serving containers using a clean hand. Then wash hands again before consuming or preparing food.

14) Lastly, it is important to note that the food industry is taking every precaution to ensure food is produced in a safe manner and ingredients, food product and packaging are not contributing to the transfer of foodborne illness. Experts in experts in chemistry, microbiology, toxicology, engineering, and the science of food work to implement science-based protocols tp protect the food supply and workers. With respect to grocery shopping protocols are in place by grocery stores to reduce traffic and disinfect surface that could be touched by customers. The most important method of transmitting a virus like SARS-CoV-2 is by touching it and then transferring to a mucous membrane, and this is most effectively controlled by good hygienic practices. Thorough handwashing can do more for preventing SARS-CoV-2 than disinfecting our environment, social isolation alone. Additional articles and perspectives have been offered by respected colleagues and food safety experts and linked below for reference.

https://www-prevention-com.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/www.prevention.com/food-nutrition/amp31955373/how-to-clean-groceries-coronavirus/https://mobile.twitter.com/bugcounter/status/1243319180851580929

kaltorak31 karma

until this gets answered, here's a thread of another food microbiologist talking about that video

https://twitter.com/bugcounter/status/1243319180851580929

Angela_Anandappa25 karma

I agree with Dr. Schaffer’s Twitter thread.

cavmax15 karma

I am interested in the part where he discusses that it may be possible for covid-19 to live in freezers for up to 2 years...

What is your thoughts on that?

I put my frozen foods in the freezer without sanitizing them thinking if I didn't touch them for about a week it would be fine but after hearing him say this I am now swabbing them off before using. But I am concerned the virus could have contaminated my freezer.

Angela_Anandappa53 karma

LIVE is a very subjective word. Viral DNA or RNA (in this case RNA) can be fully intact, but the virus may not be fully intact with its full protein sheath. That is not the same as a virus being infective.

See my response to Phototos above.

I would add that is it best to clean your fridge and freezer frequently anyway. To do that, use products that are intended for that job (Clorox or Lysol is fine) and be sure to leave the product on for the requried duration following manufacturer directions.

For Lysol wipes, that means wiping and leaving it visibly wet for 4 minutes (see the package on the product you have in your home).

electronicat0 karma

yes I would really like your opinion of this video.

I would think things like orange peels would be too acidic for the virus.

Angela_Anandappa2 karma

Acidity is not the issue here. Oranges would be a great one now, as it is only peeled or cut when you are about to eat it. Wash, so wash then before you eat them and you'll be fine.

Slashbond00776 karma

do you think china will have a resurgence of the virus now that they're re opening the street food market?

Angela_Anandappa111 karma

Yes

strawski71 karma

Hi, I'm a baker who's been furloughed. I'd like to make bread for people in my community who aren't able to shop. My house is isolated but I can't guarantee that there's no Covid infection anywhere. Could you advise how I might be able to deliver bread to people, from a food handling and delivery perspective?

Angela_Anandappa49 karma

This is a great question and I applaud your creativity in using your talents and trying to put them to good use at this time.

First you’ll need to adhere to any state and local laws about this operation. Have a pre-bake and a post-bake section of your home. For the purpose of hygiene and to ensure you are not the source of contamination. Using good hygiene practices that your local health department advises you to do. Take precautions that you do not become ill from it.

Good luck on the new baking operation!

marvelkitty2311 karma

I have no idea if this is possible but could you slightly undercook (but have it still be fully cooked) the bread and then tell the people you give it to to put it in the oven for 10 minutes? The 10 minutes in the oven will get the bread to that golden brown color and also kill any lingering germs...? Maybe?

Angela_Anandappa22 karma

Yes you can do the slightly undercook bread and have the user pop it in the oven for a short time. This is pretty common for bread that is sold in Europe which is packaged in plastic sleeves with modified air so they can keep longer. However I don’t think this is a necessary step.

Tigerwolfalphashark62 karma

In general could you discuss raw foods such as fruit that are consumed raw- grapes, tomatoes, apples, lettuce- and other foods such as sushi.

Also what would be your strategy and steps for bringing takeout into your home?

Angela_Anandappa64 karma

Raw foods should always be washed or rinsed thoroughly. If you wash in a bowl, finish with a final rinse in clean water. Well except bananas (peel it) or pineapples where you can get away with not washing IF you have a good cutting strategy that prevents anything on the outside getting on the meat of the fruit.

I responded to another SeerPumpkin above about takeout.

ItsJustLittleOldMe22 karma

Are you saying that simply rinsing the produce will remove any possible viral contamination? I'm struggling with this, especially after hearing how a PA grocery store threw away $35,000 worth of produce after a person purposely coughed all over it, claiming to have the virus. https://www.pahomepage.com/top-stories/gerritys-throws-away-35000-worth-of-food-after-woman-allegedly-coughs-on-it/

If someone with the virus coughs on produce, a simple rinse in clean water is really enough to make it safe to handle and eat? Please help me understand this.

Angela_Anandappa86 karma

So this is a murky zone, but it has to do with intentional adulteration. The grocery store is obligated to throw away the product because they cannot legally sell you something that they are aware is contaminated.

paranoidandroidClass40 karma

How is the restaurant and hospitality industry going to change in how we provide services after this time? What can someone, who is looking to go back to that industry, suppose to prepare for success upon returning?

Angela_Anandappa38 karma

This is an interesting question. I need to think further on this. Can I get back to you?

evildadatron35 karma

Seeing as the virus can be transmitted in the air and we exhale vapor droplets which could contain the virus and linger in the air for some time, do you believe the current social distancing most are commonly practicing in grocery stores and such to be a reasonable distance? I have my doubts that it is far enough. Ontario, Canada.

Angela_Anandappa57 karma

This is a very good question. The 6 foot distance recommendation helps in my opinion to reduce the likelihood of infection. However we are all moving objects in a grocery store so we are never really 6 feet away from others so wearing a mask is not a bad idea at this time.

axlrosen31 karma

Everything I read says that risk of transmission from food or packaging is low. Is that true? Here's what I've read:

CDC:
"It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads."
New York Times: 
“The risk of becoming infected from touching any individual shopping cart is probably very, very low,” said Dr. Daniel Winetsky, infectious diseases fellow at Columbia University Irving Medical Center.
Dr. Winetsky agreed that the risk of contamination from jars, cans or other containers “is infinitesimally small” and that you have to balance risk with anxiety. “I would not do this myself or really recommend it to other people,” he said. “This level of anxiety about sanitation can be harmful in and of itself.”
Wall Street Journal:
They say the potential risks of becoming infected with the virus from touching a surface are very small. It’s primarily person-to-person interaction that is driving the Covid-19 outbreak, rather than contact with objects.
“The risk of getting infected from food delivery is pretty low but not zero,” says Daniel Kuritzkes, chief of the division of infectious diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Angela_Anandappa45 karma

Yes the risks of transmission by touching things, especially groceries is low. It’s far more likely that you can catch it by being close to a person who is sick or carrying it.

unicorn_pug_wrangler30 karma

What is your recommendation on eating takeout that contains raw food like sushi or salad?

Angela_Anandappa108 karma

Right now, I'm avoiding sushi but not because of Coronavirus. The sushi establishments simply do not have as many customers in my area (yours may be different). Raw fish always carries a higher risk of foodborne illness. At this point, I am making my own sushi. Many sushi restaurants make lots of other items that you can order, so this should not prevent you from ordering other kinds of takeout from Asian restaurants.

csilvert27 karma

I’m a high school science teacher. Would you be willing to do a zoom meeting with my students? I’m trying to organize a virtual career fair specifically for science.

Angela_Anandappa32 karma

Absolutely!

someusername_yay24 karma

What’s your assessment of the risks in going to grocery stores?

Thanks for doing this!

Angela_Anandappa49 karma

Every time you leave your home and go to work, a store, or anywhere else you risk coming into contact with a sick person and potentially contracting the virus. Right now I would assume every place has a similar risk of exposure not just the hot spots .That risk is reduced by taking precautions to minimize distance, wear masks, and to wash you hands before touching your face if you touch anything at all.

ChiefQuinby15 karma

If i just eat more germs does that make my immune system stronger?

Angela_Anandappa51 karma

What doesn’t kill you sometimes makes you stronger. This is a big IT DEPENDS answer. Assume the word germ is a pathogen, then the answer is mostly no, it will not make you stronger. But there are some microorganisms that are harmless but necessary for you, and they can indeed help with certain aspects of your immune system.

ilikeplanesandcows12 karma

your name sounds Sri Lankan. Am I right?

Angela_Anandappa14 karma

Yup!

nukio8 karma

Is transmission related to personal hygiene? Can it be passed on by faecal matter example? Hiw were the other Corona viruses transmitted? Is it safe to deliver food to my elderly neighbours?

Angela_Anandappa9 karma

Personal hygienic practices play a role. Soap and water and plenty of scrubbing, and diligence is our best attack on the virus combined with limited our exposure to others.

gharbadder7 karma

[deleted]

Angela_Anandappa11 karma

Yes they can assuming the virus is intact and has not been degraded in the time between transfers.

GrandAlexander7 karma

How do you pronounce your last name? Also can ice cream count as breakfast?

Angela_Anandappa17 karma

Ah-nun-dhup-pah.

Yes you can eat ice cream for breakfast provided you eat something more balanced by way of grain, protein, fruit, and vegetables later on in the day. :)

Sir_Muffinbutton6 karma

I did my Bachelor's in microbiology, I want to continue to do research, can you provide the best possible options for my future and scope?

Angela_Anandappa13 karma

Microbiology is a growing and rapidly evolving field. Find out what you enjoy about it and think about what problem you’d like to solve in the world. Then consider what field would be a good preparation for using your microbiology degree and helping solve the bigger world problems. So if you are interested in quickly solving this pandemic, maybe epidemiology or immunology is a good next step, or if you’d like to figure out why this virus is spreading so fast, you want to pursue further studies in statistics or if you want to ensure people don’t get sick you could be a food microbiologist.

Cbice15 karma

As a person who is worried about germs, I have never once eaten leftover food that has been in my fridge for more than 24 hours. How long do leftovers last and which factors affect the expiration?

Angela_Anandappa10 karma

Depends on the food. Restaurant leftovers (sit down plates meal) should be eaten in 1-2days.

Expiration for food safety depends on the food and how it was made and handled. Depending on where you live, how well your refrigerator functions also matters.

Norgeroff5 karma

What color is your toothbrush?

Angela_Anandappa33 karma

I have 3! A green one for travel (which I doubt I'm doign anytime soon), One for the AM Maroon and white), and one for PM (Blue). I do not like my toothbrush to be wet or even the slightest bit moist, and so I have two for the day. My travel brush lives in my travel backpack so I never need to worry about forgetting it.

Baby-Blue-Lily5 karma

What precautions should nursing home tray service be taking?

Angela_Anandappa6 karma

High care is needed for nursing homes.ore disinfection. Everyone should be wearing masks to protect seniors who are much more vulnerable.

rkarl77773 karma

I've read a lot of your advice in this post. Wouldn't it be a lot easier and safer to only buy groceries that can be quarantined at room temperature for several weeks or more?

We don't need fresh produce, or anything that requires refrigeration at this time. Buy groceries that come in cans, jars, bottles, bags, and boxes, and then don't touch them for several weeks. It's a small inconvenience to keep you and your family safe.

Angela_Anandappa10 karma

Merely being able to go to the grocery store and having it open, or getting delivery is a privilege. In any country if we were to all make one big grocery run and purchase only shelf stable items that have a long life, and all stay at home, quarantining ourselves and the food, cooking only at home for the next 2 months, we can stop the virus.

The option to buy groceries as we wish (even with some social distancing), allow delivery is a economic decision to keep even a few businesses running while keeping people relatively happy with the basics of food.

Qibble3 karma

I've got some chicken breasts and hamburger in my freezer that are both about 4 to 5 months old, Still safe to eat?

Angela_Anandappa9 karma

If you stored it in the freezer, yes you can cook it and eat it. If it’s way past expiration date under freezer conditions you might find some quality issues.

gurumark2 karma

Should I spray all my food with bleach before I eat it?

Angela_Anandappa2 karma

No

Abdulla052 karma

  • Does the CoronaVirus transfer through foods, fruits, and vegetables?
  • Does it stay on the surface or enters through the cells? if it stays on the surface, how long does it stay on it?
  • How long do you recommend me to wash the fruit and vegetables for it to be disinfected?

Angela_Anandappa4 karma

There is a very small chance that food that has been directly sprayed with the aerosols or droplets from a sick person can transfer to whomever touches that food and then touches their face and nose. We don’t yet know the exact ways this virus behaves inside food but can use information we know about it be viruses. Washing fruits and vegetables and rinsing them will remove Viruses from the surface. I would rinse in a bowl 3-4 times in clean water with each rinse being progressively cleaner.

Dannyz-1 karma

I made fruit bars the other day, and the gelatin I used appears to have tiny white worms in it.

I ate like 4 fruit bars. Should I be worried I have worms? Should I avoid eating the rest?

They came out really good!

Angela_Anandappa15 karma

Oh dear. If you are not feeling any symptoms of headache, nausea, stomachache, vomiting, you’re probably OK. If you did not use very hot (boiling) water it is more likely that the gelatin simply did not fully dissolve and left particles that appeared to be worm-like or stringy.

If you are unsure, get rid of the fruit bars and do not eat more of them despite them being so delicious. I know, it’s going to be hard.