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How to grocery shop safely during COVID-19 outbreak

Soon, the grocery store will be one of the only places where Floridians are in close contact with each other.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Soon, the grocery store will be, for most of us, the only place where you are interacting closely with other people. 

There have been some videos and articles floating around with ways to stay safe, including washing your produce with soap and water. But, putting soap on your groceries is going to do more harm than good.

“Soap is designed for use on hands and it’s designed for use on dishes. It’s not designed for use on fresh produce," explained Don Schaffner, a professor of food microbiology at Rutgers. "In fact, if you ingest high levels of soap, it can cause vomiting, diarrhea and nausea. Which are three things you definitely don’t want to be experiencing now.”

RELATED: VERIFY: Don't use soap to wash your produce

COVID-19 should not have you worried about bringing food or packages home because the greatest risk of getting it is still from human to human transmission.

"The single biggest risk when it comes to the grocery store is from other people. Not from the food, and not from the bags that the food is placed in," said Schaffner.

As the fight against the virus continues on, we will need to go to the grocery store, but there are ways to minimize your exposure.

Before you even leave your home, make a list. 

“If you have a grocery list, that is going to help you move through the store as efficiently as possible," said Schaffner.

Most stores are disinfecting carts after each use. It is still a good idea to clean your hands with sanitizer before entering the store.  

Once you are in the store, Schaffner said it is polite and safer to make selections quickly and efficiently. 

“Be respectful of everybody else and pick with your eyes, not with your hands.”

When waiting in line to check out, make sure you are leaving six feet of space.

And, if you have the option, use self check-out to minimize exposure to others.

When you’re done, “Hit that hand sanitizer on the way out. Like I said, on the way in, that’s to protect everyone else, but on the way out, that’s to protect me," said Schaffner.

When you get home, the best thing to do after unloading everything is to wash your hands.

 "If I’m concerned about the packaging, concerned about the food surfaces, having coronavirus, I can take care of that, after I put all my groceries away, by, again, washing my hands or using hand sanitizer," said Schaffner.

RELATED: Why health experts aren't warning about coronavirus in food

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