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10 Hygiene Tips To Know When Shopping In Supermarkets

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Atiqah Mokhtar  •  Mar 25, 2020

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[Updated 3 June 2021] MCO3.0 in Malaysia has officially begun as of 1 June 2021. While you brush up on the new rules and regulations of this lockdown, one thing we'd like to refresh you with are some hygiene tips while grocery shopping. So here are some tips to practice when you head out for groceries to help stay safe against the coronavirus.
Before going to the store
1. Only go if you're feeling well
Where possible, do avoid heading out to shop if you are feeling unwell or showing symptoms of illness. In addition, those who are more susceptible to the virus (e.g. those with compromised immune systems or the elderly), are generally advised to stay home. However, if you do shop, many grocery stores including Jaya Grocer, Mydin and Giant are currently having specially designated hours to cater to senior citizens or customers with disabilities. Do check the social media platforms for your grocery store, or look at our compilation of Malaysian supermarket updates here!
2. Be aware of your supermarket's guidelines and policies
 Since the start of the MCO, there have been many updates in supermarket guidelines and policies, from changes in operating hours to minimum distance requirements between customers. In addition, some supermarkets have started implementing additional policies such as temperature checks and only allowing a certain number of customers in at a time. The policies are constantly being updated as more directives come from both federal and local governments, so things can be a bit confusing, to say the least! So before you head out to the store, be sure to double-check your store policy beforehand via their social media platforms so you know what specific policies are in place. 
2. Have a plan for what you need to get
 The aim is to make your trip to the supermarket as efficient as possible (thus minimising your time outside and your potential physical contact with others), so for that, you need a plan! Make a list of what you need to pick up, and it's generally advised to head to the grocery store nearest to you that you're familiar with so it's easy to navigate. Make a mental note of the number of items you'll be buying so you know whether you'll have to get a shopping cart or can rely on a basket. In addition, it's good to have your grocery list in order of the sections you 'll be heading for in the store (e.g. all fruits, vegetables and other fresh items first, household goods last), so you won't need to go back and forth throughout the store to pick-up something. If you're not used to doing the grocery shopping for your family, make sure to go through each item beforehand and know what it is, what it looks like, and which section of the store it's usually kept in. P.S. Check this list out for healthy immune-boosting foods you can add to your grocery list!
At the store
3. Maintain a safe distance
Credit: MYDIN Malaysia on Facebook Customers are generally advised to keep a distance of at least 1-metre apart from the next customer and it applies at all times, from when you enter the store, as you're choosing your products and when you're queueing to pay for your groceries. Some stores have started marking out designated lines in the store to help customers be aware and uphold the 1-metre distance, so do follow them accordingly! If they don't have them, be mindful of others and keep your distance as you shop.
4. Clean your hands before and after leaving the store
 It's important to keep our hands as clean as possible (while also refraining from touching our face). Hand sanitizer is a convenient option to clean your hands while at the store - do it as you enter and also when you leave. A lot of stores have started providing sanitizer for customers, but it's good to bring your own just in case! Plus, you can continuously clean your hands while doing your shopping if need be. #HHWT Tip: If you choose to wear gloves while shopping, try and get good quality nitrile gloves that you can clean with hand sanitizer. Do note even with gloves on, it's still important to sanitize them as you're wearing them, as you bear the risk of transferring germs between surfaces while wearing the gloves.
5. Wipe down the trolley or basket handles
Many stores have ramped up their cleaning policies for items like shopping trolleys, basket handles and checkout counters, but you can also bring disinfectant wipes to wipe down the areas on your trolley or basket you come into contact with. Just be mindful of others while you're doing it (e.g. don't do it in the middle of the entrance blocking people's entry to the store, and make sure you dispose of the wipe carefully, followed by cleaning your hands).
6. Only touch products that you're buying
As you shop, try to touch as little things and surfaces as possible, including fresh produce and items off the shelves or freezer sections.
7. Use contactless payment options over cash if possible
 It's helpful to opt for e-wallets, credit cards with paywave options, or Google and Apple Pay when checking out to help further minimise contact. 
When arriving home
8. Wash your hands thoroughly
Wash your hands with soap and water thoroughly for at least 20 seconds.
9. Avoid immediate contact with family members
Malaysia's Ministry of Health recently shared a Facebook post with guidelines for those coming home from grocery outings. This includes making sure not to come into physical contact with your family members at home until after showering and changing out of the clothes you used while grocery shopping. The clothes you used should be washed, and if you were wearing a mask while shopping, dispose of the mask immediately and carefully before washing your hands and subsequently showering.
10. Clean your groceries
It's advisable to clean the products that you bring home, especially those in packaging that you will touch repeatedly when in use. You can use dish soap or disinfectant wipes to wash or wipe down packagings like glass or plastic containers and cans. Wash your fresh produce like vegetables and fruits thoroughly. After putting away groceries, wipe down kitchen and other surfaces you touched (e.g.cupboard and refrigerator door handles). If you used reusable grocery bags, wash or wipe them down as well. And of course, once you're done with the whole process, wash your hands again thoroughly. #HHWT Tip: It's good practice to wipe down commonly touched surfaces at regular intervals, including light switches, remote controls, your phone, car keys, etc. in general too!  Lastly, we'd just like to extend a gentle reminder to be considerate of others. Don't resort to panic buying, and do give way to the elderly and more vulnerable shoppers. In addition, do remember to be kind to supermarket workers too! Grocery stores are pouring all their efforts to keep stocks supplied so that everyone can get what they need, with workers continuously re-stocking products while also stepping up disinfecting processes. It's a challenging environment to work in, so it's understandable how sometimes supplies may run short or store policies and precautionary measures may be unclear. Please refrain from taking out any frustrations you may have on staff and remember that we're all in this together 💪 These are some exceptional times, but we can all do our best to take precautions and stay safe while we get through this. May these tips be helpful for your future grocery outings! P.S. Looking for food delivery options in KL that's not fast food? Check this list out!