Tips on How to Shop and Cook Safely While Social Distancing
Across the nation, social distancing and stay-at-home orders due to COVID-19 mean a lot more Americans are cooking from home. While you’re dusting off those cookbooks, planning trips to the grocery store, and cooking your favorite chicken recipes, be mindful of the following safety tips.
Before we get started, don’t forget to wash your hands routinely throughout the entire process.
Wash before you leave for the store, immediately when you return, after handling food packaging, before preparing food, and before you eat. The CDC guidelines on frequent hand washing recommend using soap and hot water for at least twenty seconds.
Planning your trip to the grocery store.
First and foremost, DO NOT go to the grocery store if you feel sick.
Before going to the store, make a comprehensive list of all the items you need ahead of time. This will help you limit the number of trips you take and keep you mindful of what’s needed so you can be as efficient as possible. If you have them on hand, bring hand sanitizer and wipes to the store.
Dr. David Aronoff, Director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, recommends shopping for groceries alone to lower risk of infection. Experts also recommend sanitizing your cart or basket, limiting phone use, maintaining 6 feet of space when possible, and paying with no-touch options.
Wear a face covering.
The CDC now recommends that people wear cloth face coverings out in public, and some stores now require shoppers to wear them — not so much to protect you as to protect other people in case you are infected.
Still uneasy about going to the store? Order online.
Ordering groceries online is great option available to many Americans. Having your food delivered or ready for pick-up greatly reduces your contact with other people. As for what to do with unpacking those groceries, experts say the advice is the same as if you’d gone to the store yourself.
Curious what to add to your grocery list? Check out the ingredients for our amazing chicken recipes. For more guidelines on how to purchase essential goods during the pandemic, visit the CDC’s guide on their website.
Preparing food at home.
Although there is no harm in disinfecting groceries if done safely, the FDA shares there is no evidence of food, food containers, or food packaging being associated with the transmission of COVID-19. It is possible that COVID-19 can survive on surfaces or objects, so be sure to follow the 4 key foods safety steps – clean, separate, cook, and chill.
Make sure to wash your hands, work surfaces, cutting boards, and utensils thoroughly with hot water and soap before you begin to cook!
Pro Tip: NEVER wash raw chicken in the sink.
Doing so can spread raw juices around your sink, onto your countertops, or onto ready-to-eat foods. Bacteria in raw meat and poultry can only be killed when cooked to a safe internal temperature of 165 °F as measured with a food thermometer.
If you need to thaw poultry, USDA recommends three options: in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave. Never thaw on the counter and be sure to adjust cook times as necessary to ensure your poultry reaches 165 °F throughout as measured with a food thermometer. For more thawing tips, check out this helpful article from Good Housekeeping. If you have leftovers, remember that leftovers of uneaten poultry remain safe to eat for two-three days.
If you’re looking for more food safety tips and recipes, be sure to head over to The Chicken Roost.
The bottom line.
Only go out to shop if you absolutely must, wash your hands often, and maintain social distancing. Let’s all do our best to flatten the curve and keep each other safe.
These tips will help better protect you and your family – as well as the essential food and grocery store employees who are all showing up to work during these difficult times.