With the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) around the world, I want to know that the food I eat is safe and doesn't pose a risk of infection. Am I okay to eat fresh potatoes that I buy from the grocery store? Should I keep my potatoes in quarantine for 14 days after purchase? Finally, do I need to wash the potatoes with soap or will water do?A:
There is no reason to avoid buying, preparing or consuming potatoes; or any other fresh produce items for that matter. Purdue University’s Department of Food Science recently posted a message for consumers: Don’t let a fear of the coronavirus (COVID-19) keep you from eating fresh fruits and vegetables. “There are no clinical confirmed cases of COVID-19 linked to the consumption of fresh produce or food sold through traditional retail outlets,” according to a joint statement from the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) and United Fresh, another produce-centric association. They do however encourage (as always) that consumers follow basic food sanitation standards from the FDA; encourage consumers to wash their hands and rinse their produce (clean water only, NO soap!) prior to preparation and consumption (no need to keep your potatoes in quarantine). The current virus threat aside, the saving grace in regard to potatoes is that they must be cooked. The high temperatures involved in all methods is more than adequate to kill most, if not all, common pathogens.
Here is a link with more details to the recent article published by The Packer, the leading, weekly fresh produce news publication: https://www.thepacker.com/article/no-reason-avoid-fresh-produce-during-outbreak