Plastic wrapped food
Food that is wrapped in plastic is already protected from the potentially dirty external factors, therefore you would only need to wipe them down with disinfectant or, better yet, soapy water! After cleaning them, let them air dry and go to store them as you normally would. Or you could remove the plastic wrap and transfer the food to a clean storage container for refrigeration or freezing.
Fruits with rinds
Food like oranges, bananas and melons will often already come with their own ready-made wrapper to keep them away from pathogens and dirt. However, they should still be scrubbed with soapy water, even if you are planning on peeling them. Store them in a bowl or in the fridge and do the cleaning a second time when you want to eat the fruit.
Typically, berries are washed just prior to eating, but are you washing them correctly? You should rinse them in a 3:1 mixture of water and distilled white vinegar. To avoid them becoming mushy, if aren’t leaving them out in your kitchen then you should remove the berries from their containers, and instead store them loosely over a paper towel in the refrigerator.
Cardboard packaged foods
Many foods have an unnecessary cardboard packaging, however these boxes can be discarded and instead transferred into a glass container, or even kept in its inner package. However, bear in mind that the nutritional information or cooking information is often printed on the back of the boxes, so ensure you take a photo of this before discarding.
Of course most people wash their greens. However, all greens (whether in a plastic wrapping or not) should only be rinsed in cool water prior to eating. This is because washed greens can only be stored in refrigerator for 1-2 days. Fill your cleaned sink with water and submerge the leaves, agitating it with a gloved hand.
What you should never use
Do not wash your food or prepare your surfaces with anything you wouldn’t put in your mouth. Therefore, stay away from using bleaches and cleaning products that contain bleach. The most you should ever put on your food is 3 parts water, 1 part vinegar solution. You can also purchase food-specific cleaning products from the grocery store.
A word about meat
Everyone knows that meat can be the main source for viral diseases if not handled correctly. So when bringing meat back from the grocer, ensure you place them in the freezer straight away if you aren’t going to cook it within 24 hours. Most meat will freeze exceptionally well, and its shelf life will increase for much longer. Some people rinse their meat in water, and whilst this isn’t crucial, it won’t hurt to do it.
Bulk foods and dry goods
Many people aren’t aware that you should avoid touching dry goods like pasta, flour, and nuts with your bare hands. This is because they should instead be stored in clean containers whereby dirty hands that haven’t been washed won’t touch them. Therefore, handle them carefully when unpackaging the foods.
Although tempting for germophobes, avoid using dish soap, household cleaners, bleach or alcohol-based sanitizers when cleaning surfaces intended to have food on them. This is because they can linger on food and can be toxic if ingested. Vinegar or oil of oregano diluted with water can make for a great non-toxic cleaner for food prep and use a chopping board made out of untreated wood as this is a natural antiseptic.
What to do about bags
Anyone that’s concerned about the environment is most likely already using their own bags, and that is safer than using plastic or paper bags from the store. However, this is only true if you keep them clean! Wash your bags regularly in hot water or wipe them down using disinfectant if they are plastic to ensure they remain germ-free. And make sure you do this everytime you get home from the grocery store.