"IMos Pizza in the Box" by Kbh3rd / Public Domain

A food safety expert on why you’re unlikely to get the coronavirus from groceries or takeout

Apr 14, 2020

By Rebecca Jennings

I was the 136th journalist to interview Ben Chapman this month. That’s not exactly surprising — we are in the middle of a pandemic, and Chapman is a food safety specialist who studies foodborne illness and has a podcast about how to avoid it. The North Carolina State University professor has been all over newspapers, radio shows, and websites like this one discussing how not to contract or spread the coronavirus through cooking, shopping, and food delivery.

There’s just one problem: People don’t seem to want to hear the best answers.

“We’re looking for all these other things that we could do,” he says, like spraying your vegetables with Lysol (don’t do this!) or leaving every cardboard box outside for three days before touching it (unnecessary!). Instead, the real answers just aren’t that exciting.

When it comes to food and the coronavirus, the biggest threat is person-to-person contact in grocery stores. If you can, use contactless delivery and tip generously; if you need to go to a physical store, wear a mask and stay six feet away from other shoppers. Always make sure to wash your hands after returning from the store or unpacking your delivered goods. And remember: The impact of not being a jerk to the people in the long chain of how your food ends up in your kitchen is much more significant than the potential threat of you getting the coronavirus from a box of cereal.

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