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COVID-19 FAQ for Grocery Stores: Cleaning and Disinfection



Authors as Published

Renee Boyer, Professor and Extension Specialist, Food Science and Technology, Virginia Tech; and Ben Chapman, Professor and Food Safety Extension Specialist, North Carolina State University

There is no CDC report that COVD-19 is transmitted through food, but evidence suggests it may remain viable for hours to days on surfaces. CDC recommends cleaning followed by disinfection as a best practice for prevention of COVID-19.


  • CDC advises using compounds on the list of EPA recommended disinfectants, which can be found at: (Note: this list is based on current data, but compounds have not been validated for inactivation of the virus causing COVID-19)
  • Check with chemical suppliers to see if disinfectants are on the lists, effective and if changes need to be made for them to be used effectively.
  • To use heat, run utensils or equipment through a commercial dishwasher that will heat to 145°F (65°C) or higher for five minutes or longer. Alternatively, hot water maintained at or above 145°F (65°C) can be used.


  • EPA recommended commercial disinfectants should be used on the following as often as is practical:
    • Shopping carts, shopping baskets and power scooters
    • Self-check out lines, counters, cafe areas (tables, chairs,
    • All self-service surfaces, including: buffet/salad bar lines, shakers, bottles, condiment stations, etc.
    • Restroom surfaces, including: doorknobs, faucets, handles, etc.
  • Avoid wiping surfaces with water only; use a disinfectant.
  • Utensils in self-service areas should be changed as often as possible. Management should assess how frequently they are used and make decisions.
  • Consider moving self-serve items like condiments and utensils to behind the employee counter to minimize contact, if possible.
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Updated April 27, 2020

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Publication Date

March 17, 2020