Safely disinfecting frozen food packages from corona virus?

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URSnshn
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Safely disinfecting frozen food packages from corona virus?

Post by URSnshn » Wed May 20, 2020 12:02 pm

How do you safely clean frozen vegetable packages prior to putting them in the freezer after grocery shopping?

What product(s) have you used as frozen vegetable packages may be porous - they are not hard surfaces.

EDIT:
I'm asking this question because (1) I don't want to go overboard and purchase / use supplies up that are unnecessary or use an inappropriate product - much less my time. (2) Frozen foods in particular have not been discussed specifically and I haven't found a lot on this when researching. I really don't want to use bleach, Lysol or other chemicals that aren't edible. (3) It is a bit difficult to discern what to do at times, (4) Frozen foods are handled and the virus doesn't apparently lose it's effectiveness at those temperatures.

I have thought of making my own alcohol-based wipes containing at least 70% alcohol however this is not easy to come by and I am not sure it is appropriate for the kind of plastics that frozen veges come in.

AS AN ASIDE: And I am concerned about the time, energy, and product use cost to do all of this.
Last edited by URSnshn on Wed May 20, 2020 5:49 pm, edited 2 times in total.

NotWhoYouThink
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Re: Safely disinfecting frozen food packages from corona virus?

Post by NotWhoYouThink » Wed May 20, 2020 12:13 pm

I have never disinfected a frozen food package and don't plan to start. But this is not the forum for medical advice, so I won't say why.

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Re: Safely disinfecting frozen food packages from corona virus?

Post by mhalley » Wed May 20, 2020 12:14 pm

Seems like overkill. The FDA says it is not needed.
We want to reassure consumers that there is currently no evidence of human or animal food or food packaging being associated with transmission of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19,'' the FDA wrote in a news release. "This particular coronavirus causes respiratory illness and is spread from person-to-person, unlike foodborne gastrointestinal or GI viruses, such as norovirus and hepatitis A that often make people ill through contaminated food."You're really more likely to get it from going to the grocery store and touching a dirty handle or doorknob and then touching your face," NBC investigative and consumer correspondent Vicky Nguyen said on TODAY Monday.
https://www.today.com/food/should-you-w ... da-t179216

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Re: Safely disinfecting frozen food packages from corona virus?

Post by goaties » Wed May 20, 2020 12:18 pm

It may indeed be overkill, but as a person who cannot seem to keep from touching my face, I do worry about transfer. We know that viruses are preserved by refrigeration or freezing, so I do disinfect items destined for fridge or freezer. I use 91% isopropyl squirted onto a square of paper towel. I wipe all the surfaces, let it sit a minute, then place in the fridge (freezer).

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Re: Safely disinfecting frozen food packages from corona virus?

Post by nps » Wed May 20, 2020 12:26 pm

You could do what this guy did (start around 10:30)

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Re: Safely disinfecting frozen food packages from corona virus?

Post by runner3081 » Wed May 20, 2020 12:29 pm

Why not soap and water?

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Re: Safely disinfecting frozen food packages from corona virus?

Post by Dottie57 » Wed May 20, 2020 12:31 pm

I have a can of lysol wipes which I use. I also just bought some liquid hand sanitizer which uses a spray bottle. This might work well.

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Re: Safely disinfecting frozen food packages from corona virus?

Post by Watty » Wed May 20, 2020 12:36 pm

URSnshn wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 12:02 pm
How do you safely clean frozen vegetable packages prior to putting them in the freezer after grocery shopping?

What product(s) have you used as frozen vegetable packages may be porous - they are not hard surfaces.
Many frozen foods, like frozen pizzas, have a inner package so you can just take the food out of the box and throw the box away. You may want to take a photo of the cooking instructions with your cell phone.

You can also just move something like frozen corn to a ziplock freezer bag.

You would then of course wash your hands well.

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Re: Safely disinfecting frozen food packages from corona virus?

Post by Dottie57 » Wed May 20, 2020 12:40 pm

nps wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 12:26 pm
You could do what this guy did (start around 10:30)
He was fine up until he did his veggies and fruits. Should have washed his hands before washing fruits. My ony complaint. I do the same with m grceries.

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Re: Safely disinfecting frozen food packages from corona virus?

Post by mervinj7 » Wed May 20, 2020 12:41 pm

Diluted bleach spray on a paper towel. Wipe, air dry 30 seconds, place in fridge.

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Re: Safely disinfecting frozen food packages from corona virus?

Post by Ricola » Wed May 20, 2020 12:43 pm

mhalley wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 12:14 pm
Seems like overkill. The FDA says it is not needed.
We want to reassure consumers that there is currently no evidence of human or animal food or food packaging being associated with transmission of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19,'' the FDA wrote in a news release. "This particular coronavirus causes respiratory illness and is spread from person-to-person, unlike foodborne gastrointestinal or GI viruses, such as norovirus and hepatitis A that often make people ill through contaminated food."You're really more likely to get it from going to the grocery store and touching a dirty handle or doorknob and then touching your face," NBC investigative and consumer correspondent Vicky Nguyen said on TODAY Monday.
https://www.today.com/food/should-you-w ... da-t179216
I did not understand this FDA statement, what is the difference between touching a door handle and touching a contaminated food package, they both have the potential of infecting you if you self inoculate.

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Re: Safely disinfecting frozen food packages from corona virus?

Post by lthenderson » Wed May 20, 2020 12:44 pm

I have done absolutely nothing other than putting the groceries away when I get home.

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Re: Safely disinfecting frozen food packages from corona virus?

Post by ResearchMed » Wed May 20, 2020 12:46 pm

goaties wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 12:18 pm
It may indeed be overkill, but as a person who cannot seem to keep from touching my face, I do worry about transfer. We know that viruses are preserved by refrigeration or freezing, so I do disinfect items destined for fridge or freezer. I use 91% isopropyl squirted onto a square of paper towel. I wipe all the surfaces, let it sit a minute, then place in the fridge (freezer).
mhalley wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 12:14 pm
Seems like overkill. The FDA says it is not needed.
We want to reassure consumers that there is currently no evidence of human or animal food or food packaging being associated with transmission of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19,'' the FDA wrote in a news release. "This particular coronavirus causes respiratory illness and is spread from person-to-person, unlike foodborne gastrointestinal or GI viruses, such as norovirus and hepatitis A that often make people ill through contaminated food."You're really more likely to get it from going to the grocery store and touching a dirty handle or doorknob and then touching your face," NBC investigative and consumer correspondent Vicky Nguyen said on TODAY Monday.
https://www.today.com/food/should-you-w ... da-t179216
I think that "NBC investigative and consumer correspondent Vicky Nguyen" is missing the point about these concerns.
No one is suggesting (I don't think anyone is, at least) that the concern about frozen foods is with someone licking the packaging (or even eating the packaging!?).

IF (and this is an increasingly "iffy" IF) touching a contaminated surface and then touching one's face is risky, then why would the fact that one of the surfaces is at a lower temp obviate any and all concerns?
IF we knew with certainty that the virus was no longer a risk after x time at y degrees, that would certainly be helpful!

We disinfect everything that needs to go into the fridge/freezer or is for immediate use; other items "age it out" in our "living room corner --> mini-warehouse". (No problem; we aren't having any guests over these days!)

We either submerse something is soapy water, and wash it off, or we use alcohol (70%) and liberally dose all surfaces for things that can't really be dunked. And a surprising number of things can be dunked, if it isn't for long.
And dunking has the advantage of getting into little crevices/folds in packaging material, etc., that one might touch.
Soap/detergent destroys the lipid covering of "enveloped" virus particles. Coronavirus is one of those (whereas the nasty but less lethal Norovirus is not, so soap will not be particularly effective for Noro, unfortunately).
(Note: 91% alcohol will evaporate much more quickly than 70%, although that might also evaporate too quickly if just swiped once and left. Is the contact time needed for alcohol the same as for bleach?)

We are in a high risk group *and* there are some hot spots right near us. Too near us... :(
We would much rather be "inconvenienced - or even laughed at - than not doing whatever seems to be most prudent given the current knowledge.

It seems more and more that the main concern is inhalation, but this is *NOT* definitive; we figure caution is still advised, etc.
(Are viral particles going airborne after a surface being "touched"?? Or from a bag being moved around? And that is only a "problem" IF the surface/bag are indeed contaminated.)
It seems more and more that the main concern is inhalation, but this is *NOT* definitive, so caution is still advised, etc.
Is even licking one's fingers after touching a contaminate surface actually a mode of transmission? Or not?
(Yes, there are GI symptoms, too, and viral particles have been detected in stool specimens, but... is that the mode of transmission, or just part of the disease process *after* infection? Lots is not yet known.)

So we may be overdoing it, but we'd rather make "that mistake" than the other, at least until more is known.
It's a rather small inconvenience, given the current concerns and understanding of risks.

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Re: Safely disinfecting frozen food packages from corona virus?

Post by iceport » Wed May 20, 2020 12:49 pm

runner3081 wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 12:29 pm
Why not soap and water?
:thumbsup

It's been reported that regular soap and water is more effective than alcohol in neutralizing this type of virus. (We can't really say killing, because it isn't really "alive" to begin with). So when regular soap or detergent — and virtually any kind works well — cannot be used because water for wetting and rinsing is not available, all those alcohol or chemical disinfecting wipes will suffice. But they aren't as effective as good ol' soap and water.

So for frozen foods, I imagine a quick sponge wipe with a cold dishwashing liquid solution and a quick cold water rinse would be sufficient.

I really don't buy frozen food anymore, so I haven't had to be concerned about this yet. I'm only mildly concerned that the fridge compartment could preserve the viability of virus parts.
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Re: Safely disinfecting frozen food packages from corona virus?

Post by TxAg » Wed May 20, 2020 12:49 pm

We just toss them in the freezer.

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Re: Safely disinfecting frozen food packages from corona virus?

Post by Fallible » Wed May 20, 2020 12:50 pm

URSnshn wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 12:02 pm
How do you safely clean frozen vegetable packages prior to putting them in the freezer after grocery shopping?

What product(s) have you used as frozen vegetable packages may be porous - they are not hard surfaces.
This is a good question I've been trying to answer satisfactorily for weeks and this from "Slate," based on interviews with two health experts (a professor of epidemiology at Columbia U Medical Center and a professor at the U of MN School of Public Health) came closest to answering it, though it's interesting how these experts often slightly disagree.

https://slate.com/human-interest/2020/0 ... ained.html

Based on this and other readings, I remove the cardboard from frozen foods before storing in the freezer and with frozen items in heavy (and probably non-porous) plastic containers, I first wipe down with detergent. Washing hands before and after handling these items is always recommended. I don't know for certain if this is the best way, but it's the best that I know of for now.
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Re: Safely disinfecting frozen food packages from corona virus?

Post by goaties » Wed May 20, 2020 12:50 pm

Ricola wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 12:43 pm

I did not understand this FDA statement, what is the difference between touching a door handle and touching a contaminated food package, they both have the potential of infecting you if you self inoculate.
Indeed. I consider this statement to be as useful as the previous advice we were given that masks were of no use to the public.

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Re: Safely disinfecting frozen food packages from corona virus?

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Wed May 20, 2020 12:52 pm

I can tell you what my wife does (I'm over 60 with several chronic qualifying diseases, so the wife does not allow me to leave the property). Upon arrival home, she stays gloved and removes the frozen pizza from the boxes. She uses 60% alcohol disinfectant wipes and wipes the inner plastic packages. Then I'm allowed to touch them and put them away. For frozen dinners, the boxes themselves are wiped down, then I can touch them.
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Re: Safely disinfecting frozen food packages from corona virus?

Post by livesoft » Wed May 20, 2020 12:52 pm

I don't do this because I don't do anything to frozen groceries or even refrigerated groceries except put them in the freezer and fridge, but ...

One could dunk the package in a bucket of bleach solution (or soapy water) for say 30 seconds, then in a water rinse bucket for 10 seconds, then shake off or toss on a towel, then into the freezer. I would not worry about them being completely dry at all. You could do this outside if you were concerned. It would be pretty darn easy to do this if you wore dishwashing gloves. The frozen items would not thaw enough at all since they had already been in the car for more than 30 seconds anyways. You could prepare the dunk buckets / station before you went shopping, too.

Added: You could practice also with your existing packages found right now in your freezer.
Last edited by livesoft on Wed May 20, 2020 1:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Safely disinfecting frozen food packages from corona virus?

Post by Whakamole » Wed May 20, 2020 1:06 pm

I just put them in the freezer.

I'm not aware of any cases where someone has caught the virus from handling frozen food packaging.

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Re: Safely disinfecting frozen food packages from corona virus?

Post by bugleheadd » Wed May 20, 2020 1:12 pm

Wash your hands after handling groceries. Then you can touch your face and lick your fingers all you want

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Re: Safely disinfecting frozen food packages from corona virus?

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Re: Safely disinfecting frozen food packages from corona virus?

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Re: Safely disinfecting frozen food packages from corona virus?

Post by kacang » Wed May 20, 2020 4:20 pm

When loading grocery items into the car, anything that can be wiped gets wiped with disinfectant, including frozen food packages. Items are also sorted into boxes in the car, eg. a box for non-perishables that will be quarantined in the garage for a few days. DH usually help unload the boxes when I get home (they are heavy!), this reduces his contact with individual grocery items.

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Re: Safely disinfecting frozen food packages from corona virus?

Post by sls239 » Wed May 20, 2020 9:22 pm

Generally speaking, I don't think you should.

Frozen food should go in the freezer. The longer it spends out of the freezer, the worse it is from a food safety perspective.

Absolutely do not submerge the frozen item - that will cause a lot of heat transfer and compromise food safety.

And the difference between a door knob and a package of frozen food is that people have a reason to touch a doorknob and they all touch it in a very small area which creates a high density of microbes.

And that density means that the odds of touching a doorknob and getting enough microbes on your hand to make you sick are much much much higher than touching a frozen food product and getting enough microbes on your hand to make you sick.

The biggest risk from frozen foods is not properly following the cooking instructions.

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Re: Safely disinfecting frozen food packages from corona virus?

Post by Saving$ » Wed May 20, 2020 10:04 pm

Frozen foods that come in a plastic bag package such as a bag of vegetables, frozen fruit, Costco tortellini etc = dunk the plastic container in soapy water and wipe it entirely with soap, then rinse off and put in freezer

Frozen foods that come in cardboard such as pizza = wipe off the cardboard box with a soapy dishrag and quickly rinse, then put in freezer
or
Remove from box and wipe off inner plastic with soapy dishrag and clean off with cold water dishrag, then put in freezer

For refrigerator food such as milk, cheese, yogurt, and food with rind such as apples, bananas lemons = dunk in soapy water and wipe down then rinse then put in refrigerator
For refrigerator food in porous plastic containers such as berries = wash off the outside of the container with soapy rag then rinse then refrigerate
For refrigerator fresh food such as lettuce and corn, it is not being eaten fresh - goes in drawer in refrigerator for at least 3 days. I hope that is enough time to kill anything...

All above items brought in go on left side of sink, get dunked and wiped with soapy water, rinsed then set on right side of sink.

For pantry food = leave it in the car; food in cardboard such as cereal is retrieved after about 24 hours and put in pantry
Food such as spaghetti sauce in glass jar or bottle of wine might get brought in with the refrigerated food and dunked in the sink of soapy water and rinsed, or left in car for 3 days or items such as a dark chocolate bar may get brought in and left in corner for 2-3 days before further touched.

Deliveries from UPS etc go in corner for 24 hours,. Wash hands after moving the item to the corner. They say the virus lasts up to 24 hours on cardboard, so after that duration I figure I'm fine. With online tracking I also know when an item was shipped, and be sure the contents have not been touched by others for at least 3 days.

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Re: Safely disinfecting frozen food packages from corona virus?

Post by whodidntante » Wed May 20, 2020 10:09 pm

Try to avoid sucking on the packaging, unless it's fully cooked.

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Re: Safely disinfecting frozen food packages from corona virus?

Post by FoolMeOnce » Wed May 20, 2020 10:13 pm

bugleheadd wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 1:12 pm
Wash your hands after handling groceries. Then you can touch your face and lick your fingers all you want
+1. Has the benefit of being much easier, too.

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Re: Safely disinfecting frozen food packages from corona virus?

Post by tyrion » Wed May 20, 2020 10:21 pm

We lysol-wipe everything destined for the fridge or freezer. Dry/canned foods get thrown in a box in the closet for a few days. Fruits and veggies get a quick soap and water wash (which we did pre-covid as well).

Overkill? Probably. But we have a couple of teenagers who need the occasional task to keep them busy, so it's not much of a burden.

I think we use 2-3 lysol wipes per week on this. When done, wipe down the counter and any doorknobs/handles that were touched in the process.

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Re: Safely disinfecting frozen food packages from corona virus?

Post by Hiker-Biker » Wed May 20, 2020 11:00 pm

My wife does the shopping about every two weeks, I put the groceries away. My wife washes her hands after coming in the house and I make sure not to touch my face while handling the groceries and putting them in the refrigerator or cabinets. Then I wash my hands. That’s what we do and we’re near a high infection area.

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Re: Safely disinfecting frozen food packages from corona virus?

Post by randomguy » Wed May 20, 2020 11:01 pm

Whakamole wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 1:06 pm
I just put them in the freezer.

I'm not aware of any cases where someone has caught the virus from handling frozen food packaging.
True but it would be almost impossible to trace an infection back to something like that. I can see worrying a bit about a door handle (imagine it is touched by 100+ people in day) but what are the odds of someone breathing on my frozen food? And then me touching that spot and not washing my hands before I touch my face? Seems really, really low.

You will find that people have vastly different risk tolerances for very low probability events. I am sure putting everything I bring into my house through a UV baking process would reduce my risk. But I am thinking we are going from .01% to .001%. I think my odds of poisoning myself with bleach far outweighs the benefits. You can definitely feel differently. Personally I thinking find a way to avoid 1 trip is going to result in much more risk reduction than worrying about groceries.

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Re: Safely disinfecting frozen food packages from corona virus?

Post by IMO » Thu May 21, 2020 1:18 am

I think the basic thought on food packages is that while it is possible that it was contaminated with Covid somewhere in the supply chain, the reality is that there is not likely a significant number of people handling a food package down the supply chain. This doesn't mean it couldn't, for example, the person who was putting the bags of potato chips in the display at the supermarket may have sneezed while unknowingly being infected with Covid.

There of course is the risk that multiple shoppers may have picked up a food item, looked at it, and picked it up. With some potential for Covid contamination on the packaging, especially with a symptomatic/coughing/sneezing shopper. I always pick packages/milk from farther in the back to be safer.

We did wash things with soap/water and/or spray packages with disinfectant early on, however, I think we've just gotten tired of worrying about lower risk items, and sort of done away with that for the most part.

The problem with putting things in the refigerator/freezer is that apparently doesn't destroy the virus.

Thus, overall, just think regular handwashing after handling packages is easier to tolerate without getting Covid fatigue.

I really think the CDC when they say packaging hasn't been a source of contamination are saying that they probably think it is a low likelihood transmission source. It's probably more of a means to keep people calm because the reality as I'm sure the CDC is aware, that a contaminated food package could be a source of transmission (albeit low likelihood), so why worry the uneducated masses?

I'm sure the CDC has never traced the source of infection down to a contaminated seatbelt/tray table on an airplane, but people still disinfect these, as well as airlines themselves doing throughout disinfecting every night, because they can of course could be a viable means of transmission. These things, like doorknobs, are touched by many people and thus the risk of one person touching them being infected is higher. Even with the airlines, they are probably doing their significant daily disinfections more for PR and calming fears for fliers than the reality that the tray table is probably pretty low likelihood of transmission. Even though I'm extremely cautious on flights, I always wonder, shouldn't the flight attendants have had more cases of Covid? Maybe they do/did? But if they did it hasn't been sensationalized like the meat packing places.

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Re: Safely disinfecting frozen food packages from corona virus?

Post by student » Thu May 21, 2020 7:31 am

I use hand sanitizer.

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Re: Safely disinfecting frozen food packages from corona virus?

Post by Call_Me_Op » Thu May 21, 2020 7:41 am

I don;t bother with that. If my goal were to ensure there were no germs on packages I would go out of my mind. I just wash or cook most of what I eat, and wash my hands before touching my face.
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Re: Safely disinfecting frozen food packages from corona virus?

Post by goaties » Thu May 21, 2020 10:28 am

I'm glad this thread was re-opened because I wanted to post this scientific abstract which, in a nutshell, describes how to preserve viruses. Of course, we want to do the opposite:
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10934522/

After reading this, I have to agree with some previous posters: the best and easiest method may be to break the virus' lipid shell with detergent. After a quick rinse, this shouldn't leave toxic residue the way bleach or alcohol could.

Since I reach in the freezer for the two-pound bag of corn niblets four or five times before I've used them all, I would potentially be getting well-preserved virus on my hands each time. I don't trust my ability to obsessively hand-wash or stop touching my face. Yet. Working on it.

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Re: Safely disinfecting frozen food packages from corona virus?

Post by bt365 » Thu May 21, 2020 12:23 pm

Sure. Do all these disinfecting things with food packages brought into the house, but honestly it is next to impossible to decontaminate 100%. Sooner or later there will be cross-contamination during course of all of this washing/disinfecting. Nonetheless we do the best we can, but be realistic. Some who maintain a rigorous disinfection protocol will get infected.
Think most of us know best practice is spend as little time as possible in public places (stores, parks, etc.) with tightly fitted mask, eye covering and disposable gloves. Less time anywhere near others, means lower odds of inhaling drifting microscopic covid-19 particles. Limiting exposure is #1 priority. Many will have very minute micro particle exposure and likely survive that, but others will have repeated exposures to enough microscopic particles to overwhelm their immune system. The stuff I've seen from "think they're being careful" people out shopping is alarming to say the least. Cross-contamination is rampant. All the preventive lessons I learned in military chemical/biological training is being broken constantly by well-meaning folks. We do our best, we hope for the best, but no one is really safe. Some are safer than others though. People out protesting without PPE displaying signs along vein of "end covid-19 government tyranny", Freedom means don't tell me to wear a mask", etc. - do not have a very strong sense of self-preservation, or respect for others they might infect. Empathy for those who fear losing their livelihoods, but without a life, what's a livelihood?

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Re: Safely disinfecting frozen food packages from corona virus?

Post by iceport » Thu May 21, 2020 3:40 pm

Just wanted to point out that the CDC has just revised their guidance on the transmission of the virus from touching surfaces of objects.
The virus spreads easily between people
The virus does not spread easily in other ways

COVID-19 is a new disease and we are still learning about how it spreads. It may be possible for COVID-19 to spread in other ways, but these are not thought to be the main ways the virus spreads.

• From touching surfaces or objects. It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, but we are still learning more about this virus.
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nc ... reads.html

Yeah, I know it seems like a moving target sometimes. But it's worth noting that the consistent general trend from the beginning until now has been to increase the precautions recommended to prevent person-to-person transmission and relax some of the concern about transmissions via fomites.

FWIW...
"Discipline matters more than allocation.” ─William Bernstein

rkhusky
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Re: Safely disinfecting frozen food packages from corona virus?

Post by rkhusky » Thu May 21, 2020 3:52 pm

We never washed any food packages from the grocery store. And after the new CDC guidance, we are even more at ease. We just wash our hands after putting things away in the fridge, freezer and cupboards.

The only thing we’ve been careful about is packaging from restaurants. We just transfer to our own plates, throw away the boxes, and wash our hands.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but your food has all sorts of insect parts, rodent hairs, pesticides, germs, bacteria and viruses, at least at some level.

Worrying about stuff that has a 1 in a billion chance of happening will drive you crazy.
Last edited by rkhusky on Thu May 21, 2020 3:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

cs412a
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Re: Safely disinfecting frozen food packages from corona virus?

Post by cs412a » Thu May 21, 2020 3:54 pm

randomguy wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 11:01 pm
. . . .
Personally I thinking find a way to avoid 1 trip is going to result in much more risk reduction than worrying about groceries.
+1

Teague
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Re: Safely disinfecting frozen food packages from corona virus?

Post by Teague » Thu May 21, 2020 4:16 pm

Someone said that ultraviolet or other strong light sources could be used to disinfect. I have no idea if this is true. Can you leave the frozen goods out in the sun for, oh, a few hours or so?
Semper Augustus

EnjoyIt
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Re: Safely disinfecting frozen food packages from corona virus?

Post by EnjoyIt » Thu May 21, 2020 4:28 pm

I see way too much overkill regarding safety by some people. I get the desire to be safe and the uncertainty presented by the lack of definitive information leads to people doing very expensive and time consuming things. At the end of the day we need to be able to fall asleep without worry so I really to get it.

My advice, put the frozen stuff in the freezer. When you take the package out and cook the food, wash your hands before touching your face. We follow this with all our groceries.
A time to EVALUATE your jitters. | https://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=79939&start=400#p5275418

atikovi
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Re: Safely disinfecting frozen food packages from corona virus?

Post by atikovi » Thu May 21, 2020 4:34 pm

Don't do anything before tossing them in the freezer, but then, I have no problem eating stuff I dropped on the floor either.

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URSnshn
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Re: Safely disinfecting frozen food packages from corona virus?

Post by URSnshn » Fri May 22, 2020 11:04 am

Thank you all for your thoughts and suggestions!

And to Teague, who wrote, "Someone said that ultraviolet or other strong light sources could be used to disinfect. I have no idea if this is true. Can you leave the frozen goods out in the sun for, oh, a few hours or so?"

Leaving them in the sun for a few hours is a novel idea. And gives me a new problem to attend to ... going back to the grocery store to replace the frozen foods left in the sun .... and round and round we go! :happy

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Re: Safely disinfecting frozen food packages from corona virus?

Post by whodidntante » Fri May 22, 2020 11:06 am

Teague wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 4:16 pm
Someone said that ultraviolet or other strong light sources could be used to disinfect. I have no idea if this is true. Can you leave the frozen goods out in the sun for, oh, a few hours or so?
Yes, but only if it's a warm day. Cold sun doesn't work as well.

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Re: Safely disinfecting frozen food packages from corona virus?

Post by Fallible » Fri May 22, 2020 2:18 pm

Updated CDC guidelines say the coronavirus does not spread easily from contaminated surfaces. A key word is "easily."

Links below to the updated CDC website and a quote, and a "Washington Post" article (scroll down):
From touching surfaces or objects. It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, but we are still learning more about this virus.
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nc ... reads.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2 ... te-states/
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself – and you are the easiest person to fool. ~Richard Feynman

02nz
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Re: Safely disinfecting frozen food packages from corona virus?

Post by 02nz » Fri May 22, 2020 2:23 pm

goaties wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 10:28 am
I'm glad this thread was re-opened because I wanted to post this scientific abstract which, in a nutshell, describes how to preserve viruses. Of course, we want to do the opposite:
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10934522/

After reading this, I have to agree with some previous posters: the best and easiest method may be to break the virus' lipid shell with detergent. After a quick rinse, this shouldn't leave toxic residue the way bleach or alcohol could.
Alcohol evaporates quickly, and in any case wiping down food packaging with alcohol isn't going to make the food inside toxic unless you're absolutely drowning the package in alcohol.

clip651
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Re: Safely disinfecting frozen food packages from corona virus?

Post by clip651 » Fri May 22, 2020 3:39 pm

EnjoyIt wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 4:28 pm
I see way too much overkill regarding safety by some people. I get the desire to be safe and the uncertainty presented by the lack of definitive information leads to people doing very expensive and time consuming things. At the end of the day we need to be able to fall asleep without worry so I really to get it.

My advice, put the frozen stuff in the freezer. When you take the package out and cook the food, wash your hands before touching your face. We follow this with all our groceries.
While you say you understand, I suspect you are in a different age group (working age) vs some of the posters taking more precautions (well past retirement age), which puts you in a different risk group in terms of likely consequences of getting infected.

I suspect handling groceries (and packages, and mail) that other people have recently handled are likely relatively low risk, as the recent CDC guidance suggests. But all of our household members are high to very high risk, and we are in a hotspot county. An infection in our household is very likely to end with one or more people in the ICU. So we stay home, avoid in person contact with non-household members, and wash hands after touching things all day long. But we also try to sanitize things as they come into the house as best as we can. I know fomite transmission is possible with other diseases, and we're more relaxed in our house feeling like we can touch things with less worry.

To answer the OP, one thing we have done is think about how something can be sanitized prior to buying it. Some frozen food packages are easier to wash or wipe down, or remove packaging and transfer the food to another container, than others. Other posters above have given a good variety of options to try. Generally, if I can't figure out how to disinfect it, and it isn't essential to us, I tend to skip it. YMMV in what works for you.

best wishes,
cj

EnjoyIt
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Re: Safely disinfecting frozen food packages from corona virus?

Post by EnjoyIt » Fri May 22, 2020 3:59 pm

clip651 wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 3:39 pm
EnjoyIt wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 4:28 pm
I see way too much overkill regarding safety by some people. I get the desire to be safe and the uncertainty presented by the lack of definitive information leads to people doing very expensive and time consuming things. At the end of the day we need to be able to fall asleep without worry so I really to get it.

My advice, put the frozen stuff in the freezer. When you take the package out and cook the food, wash your hands before touching your face. We follow this with all our groceries.
While you say you understand, I suspect you are in a different age group (working age) vs some of the posters taking more precautions (well past retirement age), which puts you in a different risk group in terms of likely consequences of getting infected.

I suspect handling groceries (and packages, and mail) that other people have recently handled are likely relatively low risk, as the recent CDC guidance suggests. But all of our household members are high to very high risk, and we are in a hotspot county. An infection in our household is very likely to end with one or more people in the ICU. So we stay home, avoid in person contact with non-household members, and wash hands after touching things all day long. But we also try to sanitize things as they come into the house as best as we can. I know fomite transmission is possible with other diseases, and we're more relaxed in our house feeling like we can touch things with less worry.

To answer the OP, one thing we have done is think about how something can be sanitized prior to buying it. Some frozen food packages are easier to wash or wipe down, or remove packaging and transfer the food to another container, than others. Other posters above have given a good variety of options to try. Generally, if I can't figure out how to disinfect it, and it isn't essential to us, I tend to skip it. YMMV in what works for you.

best wishes,
cj
You are correct. I am in my 40s but have close and regular contact with relatives who are in the higher risk group. Me getting sick puts them at risk which is something I do not want and take very seriously. In addition, I am a physician seeing COVID patients pretty regularly. Which means, if I get sick I put my non COVID patients at risk. I take that very seriously as well. Understand that I was wearing masks going to the supermarket way back when all this was getting started. I received weird looks back then because I was the only one in the store with a mask most of the times. but I did it because I felt I was high risk of being positive and did not want to pass on the disease to others. We knew very little back then so I also took very aggressive precautions with regards to packages and groceries that I took home. We had a washing ritual for everything. Because I am regularly surrounded by COVID I also need to be practical about sanitation otherwise I would go crazy.

Again, I understand the anxiety it brings and trying to do everything possible to protect oneself. We still quarantine non refrigerated items for 24+ hours before bringing them into the kitchen. As for the fridge, we keep an area of the fridge for potentially infected items and act accordingly. We find this process much less stressful and time consuming than washing every piece of produce or box that enters our house. Keep in mind that one of us goes grocery shopping every 2-4 days because we enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables.

Lastly, because we take our safety very seriously we have almost zero fear of getting sick. This is really important because we are less stressed about the situation and we all know stress is unhealthy.
A time to EVALUATE your jitters. | https://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=79939&start=400#p5275418

mslaw
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Re: Safely disinfecting frozen food packages from corona virus?

Post by mslaw » Fri May 22, 2020 4:03 pm

ResearchMed wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 12:46 pm
goaties wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 12:18 pm
It may indeed be overkill, but as a person who cannot seem to keep from touching my face, I do worry about transfer. We know that viruses are preserved by refrigeration or freezing, so I do disinfect items destined for fridge or freezer. I use 91% isopropyl squirted onto a square of paper towel. I wipe all the surfaces, let it sit a minute, then place in the fridge (freezer).
mhalley wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 12:14 pm
Seems like overkill. The FDA says it is not needed.
We want to reassure consumers that there is currently no evidence of human or animal food or food packaging being associated with transmission of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19,'' the FDA wrote in a news release. "This particular coronavirus causes respiratory illness and is spread from person-to-person, unlike foodborne gastrointestinal or GI viruses, such as norovirus and hepatitis A that often make people ill through contaminated food."You're really more likely to get it from going to the grocery store and touching a dirty handle or doorknob and then touching your face," NBC investigative and consumer correspondent Vicky Nguyen said on TODAY Monday.
https://www.today.com/food/should-you-w ... da-t179216
I think that "NBC investigative and consumer correspondent Vicky Nguyen" is missing the point about these concerns.
No one is suggesting (I don't think anyone is, at least) that the concern about frozen foods is with someone licking the packaging (or even eating the packaging!?).

IF (and this is an increasingly "iffy" IF) touching a contaminated surface and then touching one's face is risky, then why would the fact that one of the surfaces is at a lower temp obviate any and all concerns?
IF we knew with certainty that the virus was no longer a risk after x time at y degrees, that would certainly be helpful!

We disinfect everything that needs to go into the fridge/freezer or is for immediate use; other items "age it out" in our "living room corner --> mini-warehouse". (No problem; we aren't having any guests over these days!)

We either submerse something is soapy water, and wash it off, or we use alcohol (70%) and liberally dose all surfaces for things that can't really be dunked. And a surprising number of things can be dunked, if it isn't for long.
And dunking has the advantage of getting into little crevices/folds in packaging material, etc., that one might touch.
Soap/detergent destroys the lipid covering of "enveloped" virus particles. Coronavirus is one of those (whereas the nasty but less lethal Norovirus is not, so soap will not be particularly effective for Noro, unfortunately).
(Note: 91% alcohol will evaporate much more quickly than 70%, although that might also evaporate too quickly if just swiped once and left. Is the contact time needed for alcohol the same as for bleach?)

We are in a high risk group *and* there are some hot spots right near us. Too near us... :(
We would much rather be "inconvenienced - or even laughed at - than not doing whatever seems to be most prudent given the current knowledge.

It seems more and more that the main concern is inhalation, but this is *NOT* definitive; we figure caution is still advised, etc.
(Are viral particles going airborne after a surface being "touched"?? Or from a bag being moved around? And that is only a "problem" IF the surface/bag are indeed contaminated.)
It seems more and more that the main concern is inhalation, but this is *NOT* definitive, so caution is still advised, etc.
Is even licking one's fingers after touching a contaminate surface actually a mode of transmission? Or not?
(Yes, there are GI symptoms, too, and viral particles have been detected in stool specimens, but... is that the mode of transmission, or just part of the disease process *after* infection? Lots is not yet known.)

So we may be overdoing it, but we'd rather make "that mistake" than the other, at least until more is known.
It's a rather small inconvenience, given the current concerns and understanding of risks.

RM

Thank you for the excellent answer to the question. There are definitely additional steps some individuals should take based on geographic location , personal health and food purchase location.
Stay well!

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Re: Safely disinfecting frozen food packages from corona virus?

Post by EnjoyIt » Fri May 22, 2020 4:17 pm

ResearchMed wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 12:46 pm
goaties wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 12:18 pm
It may indeed be overkill, but as a person who cannot seem to keep from touching my face, I do worry about transfer. We know that viruses are preserved by refrigeration or freezing, so I do disinfect items destined for fridge or freezer. I use 91% isopropyl squirted onto a square of paper towel. I wipe all the surfaces, let it sit a minute, then place in the fridge (freezer).
mhalley wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 12:14 pm
Seems like overkill. The FDA says it is not needed.
We want to reassure consumers that there is currently no evidence of human or animal food or food packaging being associated with transmission of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19,'' the FDA wrote in a news release. "This particular coronavirus causes respiratory illness and is spread from person-to-person, unlike foodborne gastrointestinal or GI viruses, such as norovirus and hepatitis A that often make people ill through contaminated food."You're really more likely to get it from going to the grocery store and touching a dirty handle or doorknob and then touching your face," NBC investigative and consumer correspondent Vicky Nguyen said on TODAY Monday.
https://www.today.com/food/should-you-w ... da-t179216
I think that "NBC investigative and consumer correspondent Vicky Nguyen" is missing the point about these concerns.
No one is suggesting (I don't think anyone is, at least) that the concern about frozen foods is with someone licking the packaging (or even eating the packaging!?).

IF (and this is an increasingly "iffy" IF) touching a contaminated surface and then touching one's face is risky, then why would the fact that one of the surfaces is at a lower temp obviate any and all concerns?
IF we knew with certainty that the virus was no longer a risk after x time at y degrees, that would certainly be helpful!

We disinfect everything that needs to go into the fridge/freezer or is for immediate use; other items "age it out" in our "living room corner --> mini-warehouse". (No problem; we aren't having any guests over these days!)

We either submerse something is soapy water, and wash it off, or we use alcohol (70%) and liberally dose all surfaces for things that can't really be dunked. And a surprising number of things can be dunked, if it isn't for long.
And dunking has the advantage of getting into little crevices/folds in packaging material, etc., that one might touch.
Soap/detergent destroys the lipid covering of "enveloped" virus particles. Coronavirus is one of those (whereas the nasty but less lethal Norovirus is not, so soap will not be particularly effective for Noro, unfortunately).
(Note: 91% alcohol will evaporate much more quickly than 70%, although that might also evaporate too quickly if just swiped once and left. Is the contact time needed for alcohol the same as for bleach?)

We are in a high risk group *and* there are some hot spots right near us. Too near us... :(
We would much rather be "inconvenienced - or even laughed at - than not doing whatever seems to be most prudent given the current knowledge.

It seems more and more that the main concern is inhalation, but this is *NOT* definitive; we figure caution is still advised, etc.
(Are viral particles going airborne after a surface being "touched"?? Or from a bag being moved around? And that is only a "problem" IF the surface/bag are indeed contaminated.)
It seems more and more that the main concern is inhalation, but this is *NOT* definitive, so caution is still advised, etc.
Is even licking one's fingers after touching a contaminate surface actually a mode of transmission? Or not?
(Yes, there are GI symptoms, too, and viral particles have been detected in stool specimens, but... is that the mode of transmission, or just part of the disease process *after* infection? Lots is not yet known.)

So we may be overdoing it, but we'd rather make "that mistake" than the other, at least until more is known.
It's a rather small inconvenience, given the current concerns and understanding of risks.

RM
Some of the testing that was done on fomites I believe portrays a much more horrific picture than reality. The testing was done doing PCR on swabs. For those reading who don't know, the way PCR works is they take a swab and basically check to see if there is any DNA or in this case RNA material. But this virus requires a fatty membrane (layer) around it to be infective. Soap for examples destroys that membrane neutralizing the virus. Imagine a whole bunch of virus particles land on a surface. They dry out and the membrane is destroyed. These membrane-less particles can not cause an infection, but if you take a swab to them, they will still have RNA lying around which will come positive using the PCR test. So, how long is the virus infective on groceries? Unfortunately we just don't know which is why we wash and take precautions.

Another item to consider is viral load. How much virus is necessary to get us sick. If I take 1 virus strain and put it in my nose, nothing will happen to me. The mucous in my nose will cover it up and that will be that. What about 2 virus particles? What about 100,000. At some point my outer defense system gets overwhelmed and then we get infected. Same goes with regards to eating. Eating a couple of viruses will cause no infection at all. Anything that enters the stomach will get destroyed by our stomach acids. The thing is, we really don't know if eating it gets us infected and if so how much viral load is necessary for an infection to take place.

Unfortunately there is still so much we don't know to be very confident about our precesses and what is really necessary to stay safe. Though I believe knowledge helps us make rational decisions which is why I posted the above.

Disclaimer: The above is not medical advice as no advice was given.
A time to EVALUATE your jitters. | https://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=79939&start=400#p5275418

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