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How to disinfect packaged food

See also How to disinfect fruits and vegetables.

Food packages should be disinfected because they were handled by workers who may have had virus particles on their hands or gloves. Gloves can get as dirty as hands. Here’s how to do it.

This method works on all waterproof packaging: cans, plastic bags, jars, milk containers, waxed cardboard boxes, etc. Don’t use it on cloth or plain paper because the solution can soak through and make the food taste bad.

Viruses survive longer in cold temperatures — up to a month — so it’s especially important to disinfect refrigerated and frozen items.

Step by Step

Step 1. Get a spray bottle. You can buy one or reuse one that contained a purchased product.

Example of 16 ounce spray bottles. See them on Amazon.

Step 2. Get bleach that contains sodium hypochlorite as the active ingredient. I like to use food-safe bleach because it leaves less residue after it dries. See this page for information about food-safe bleach.

Example of food-safe bleach. See it on Amazon.

Step 3. Mix 1 teaspoon of bleach into 1 pint of water (about 3 tablespoons per gallon) and put the mixture in the spray bottle. Don’t save this mixture for more than a day. The mixture should smell like chlorine (like a swimming pool). If it doesn’t, your bleach is probably old and you should get a new bottle.

Step 4. Spray the packages. Get them dripping wet on all surfaces. They should remain dripping wet for at least five minutes.

Step 5. If you want to rinse them with plain water, you can, but it’s not necessary.

Step 6. Let the packages dry.

Technical

Available chlorine in fresh solution before contact with organic matter:

Percent NaOCl in bleach
1 tsp bleach/pint H20
3 tbsp bleach/gal H20
Percent NaOCl in bleach
5%
1 tsp bleach/pint H20
500 ppm
3 tbsp bleach/gal H20
562 ppm
Percent NaOCl in bleach
6%
1 tsp bleach/pint H20
600 ppm
3 tbsp bleach/gal H20
675 ppm
Percent NaOCl in bleach
8%
1 tsp bleach/pint H20
800 ppm
3 tbsp bleach/gal H20
900 ppm

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