Why you need to wash your fruit and vegetables with SOAP: Virologist confirms that COVID-19 can survive on fresh supermarket produce just like any other surface
- Timothy Newsome is an associate professor at the University of Sydney
- He specialises in infectious disease and viruses, so is interested in COVID-19
- Mr Newsome said that ‘every surface is a hazard’ and that includes fruit and veg
- He recommends washing your groceries with soap and water to reduce risk
- Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?
Associate professor at the University of Sydney, Timothy Newsome
A virologist has confirmed that ‘every surface is a hazard’ when it comes to COVID-19 and supermarket customers should be particularly mindful of the loose fruit and vegetables in the store.
Associate professor at the University of Sydney, Timothy Newsome, specialises in infection, vaccines and virology, so has been following along closely as the coronavirus restrictions heighten in Australia.
He told FEMAIL that while the virus can live on most surfaces, patrons doing their weekly grocery shop should be particularly wary of the fruit and veg aisle as customers are constantly picking up and placing back down items.
‘We have to remember that every surface is potentially contaminated. And like with any surface there is a risk,’ Mr Newsome explained.
‘We don’t see it as high risk because that comes from sustained contact with other people, but nonetheless it’s important to be mindful.’
While it would be ‘poor practice’ to be testing ‘every avocado for coronavirus’, Mr Newsome did say anything people can touch poses a potential problem.
While it would be ‘poor practice’ to be testing ‘every avocado for coronavirus’, Mr Newsome did say anything people can touch poses a potential problem
The best course of action is to wash your fruit and vegetables with soap as soon as you bring them home, not simply relying on the high heat of cooking them to ‘kill’ the virus
What are Coles and Woolworths doing?
* Every second cash register is closed.
* Every attendant is issued with gloves but it’s up to the individual to use them.
* Hand sanitiser is readily available.
* There are plastic ‘walls’ set up in front of the cash register to reduce exposure.
‘People working in the supermarkets should be picking all of the fruit and veg up and setting it back down with protection,’ he said.
Luckily he noted a large proportion of shelf stackers and general workers wearing gloves and disinfecting their hands at every turn.
The best course of action is to wash your fruit and vegetables with soap as soon as you bring them home, not simply relying on the high heat of cooking them to ‘kill’ the virus.
‘Wash them with warm soapy water, just as you do your hands,’ he said.
Woolworths has introduced new line systems to customers stay away from each other
A Woolworths employee told FEMAIL she has seen a number of drastic measures enforced at her local store which are helping to keep the working environment safe.
‘There is certainly social distancing at checkouts. So every second register is closed at the moment including self serve,’ she said.
‘We have gloves supplied to us, hand sanitiser as well. However it’s currently a personal preference to wear gloves or not.’
She noted there were cleaners coming in to wipe down registers, screens and eftpos pinpads who walk around every 20 minutes to do their job.
A staff member noted there were cleaners coming in to wipe down registers, screens and eftpos pinpads who walk around every 20 minutes to do their job
‘It’s very good for us. One less thing to worry about at this point,’ she said.
While she doesn’t work in the fruit and veg area, the employee thought nothing had changed in that area, however they may soon be incorporating special cleaning procedures.
Coles has similarly put social distancing practices in place and gives all workers access to hand sanitiser.
They have also started a ‘community hour’ in the morning to allow elderly patrons a chance to do their shopping before the larger community.
Daily Mail Australia has reached out to Coles and Woolworths to ask what procedures are in place outside of COVID-19, and are waiting for a comment.