Guidelines for safe shopping issued due to lack of consistent hygiene standards in Irish supermarkets 2 months ago

Guidelines for safe shopping issued due to lack of consistent hygiene standards in Irish supermarkets

“The inconsistency in upholding standards is worrying.”

Three health bodies in Ireland and the United Kingdom have collaborated on guidelines for safe shopping to help the public protect themselves and reduce the incidence of the highly infectious Covid-19 virus.

What has been described as the “lack of consistent hygiene standards” - despite the best efforts of some supermarkets to exercise caution - has prompted the Irish Global Health Network, in partnership with the Environmental Health Association of Ireland and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health in the UK, to issue safe shopping guidelines to the general public.

The guidelines include advice on measures to take before, during and after shopping and signs whether your supermarket is doing enough to ensure as safe a shopping experience as possible.

It also includes a number of protocols to help the public protect themselves, including:

  • Using the non-dominant hand to pick up goods, which subsequently reduces the cross contamination risk from touching of the mouth, nose or eyes
  • Making contactless payments and avoiding contact with surfaces of any kind.
  • Sanitisation of shopping trolleys, baskets, pin pads and other regularly touched items after each use due to the capacity of the virus to live on surfaces

The Irish Global Health Network described the inconsistency in upholding standards as “worrying” and called for more detailed guidance and more comprehensive practice by supermarkets and oversight by relevant authorities to ensure both staff and the public are protected.

Supermarkets have been urged to enhance existing procedures such as social distancing to enable shoppers protect themselves and the frontline staff who are most at risk.

The Irish Global Health Network also urged customers and staff to remain vigilant, saying that the lack of clear controls on numbers of people entering premises, the exposure of baked goods and fresh produce and the lack of facilities for handwashing are posing a “severe” threat to shoppers.

They also sought to remind the public that the main risk to shoppers is coming into contact with an infected person and urged people to wash their hands frequently, maintain good hygiene practices and minimise contact with people outside of their household.

The safe shopping guidelines are available to read in full here.

Last week, Trinity College Dublin Professor of Experimental Immunology, Dr Kingston Mills, said that the risk of contracting Covid-19 while shopping in the supermarket is "very small", while also stressing the need to take the type of measures outlined in the safe shopping guidelines above.

“I think if you are sensible, perhaps use gloves if you are going shopping and then dispose of them when you take them off but more importantly just wash your hands," Mills said.

“People have said maybe they should wash the wrappings on them.

“My advice would be use your gloves, take off the wrapping, dispose of them and everything should be fine but quite frankly these are low risk in compared to being in contact with someone that's infectious.

“That's a far more important message to get across and it comes back to distancing yourself from people who are potentially infected rather than picking it up from shopping."