New advice issued on how to shop safely at supermarkets

As the Covid-19 epidemic continues to wreak havoc, new guidelines have been issued on how to shop safely at supermarkets.

The UK's Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) united with the Environmental Health Association of Ireland (EHAI) and the Irish Global Health Network (IGHN) to draw up a new four-page rule book covering everything from trolleys and shopping baskets to what to do when you get home after shopping.

The guidance says that touching trolleys, good items, and not adhering to social distancing regulations could result in transmission of the virus.

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But the document stresses that "no reported cases of COVID-19 have been linked to contaminated food".

New advice has been issued to shoppersNew advice has been issued to shoppers
New advice has been issued to shoppers

"If possible, avoid taking your children to the shops and try to shop at off-peak times to avoid the crowds," the guidance says.

"Most shops now have special times for the elderly to shop to reduce risks to them. These are usually in the morning but check with your local store. There may also be special arrangements for health care workers.

"Make an inventory of what items you have and when it will go out of date so you can use them in date order and avoid wasting food and money by buying things you don’t need.

"Make a list and ensure you have enough food to last until your next planned shop. Use your freezer to store shorter life, perishable items such as bread and meats.

"This is not a licence to panic-buy but to buy essential items. It is best to limit shopping trips to once a week as this reduces the risk of getting the disease or spreading it to others.

What you should do:

Maintain a safe distance between staff and other shoppers, including in routes in and out the supermarket. You may have to queue, for instance, to get in the shop.

Bring your own hand sanitiser. "If you need to handle a basket or trolley, ask if it has been sanitised since last being used. If not, sanitise using either your own sanitiser or that provided by the store.

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Sanitise your hands when you enter the store, ideally with your own sanitiser or, if available, that provided by the store."

Avoid contact with surfaces as much as possible.

Don’t delay while shopping or chat with neighbours/friends/store staff.

If you are planning to remain at home for long periods of time, consider buying non-perishable foods such as canned goods or dry mixes that don’t require refrigeration, such as ready-to-eat canned meats, fruit and vegetables. But make sure you buy things you like and will use.

Use contactless payment if possible.

After shopping:

Use the same hand to pick up produce and sanitise our hands after leaving the supermarket

Wash and sanitise your hands again once home. Then, designate a cleared, disinfected area to sort out your shopping.

Prior to stocking your fridges and cupboards, wipe shelving with sanitiser and a paper towel, then discard.

But if you are shopping for a vulnerable person, leave the goods on the doorstep, ring the bell or phone them and stand back while they collect it.

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