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What are the rules around touching food in supermarkets?

What are the rules around touching food in supermarkets?
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With most of the UK under lockdown, a trip to the supermarket is one of the few reasons we can leave our homes.

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Government guidance for those going shopping for food is that they should try to only touch what they are going to buy. This is because, as Boris Johnson reminded us recently, coronavirus can be passed on by handling items that have been picked up and put back by someone who is infected with the virus.

Below, we look at the rules that supermarkets have put in place regarding the touching of food items.

Current rules on touching food at supermarkets


Asda is asking its customers to touch things as little as they can. They recommend that customers avoid touching any item unless they’re sure they want to buy it.

The supermarket has also taken other steps to try to limit the spread of bacterial and viruses. This includes putting antimicrobial handles on all baskets and trolleys.

In addition, all Asda stores are equipped with hand sanitising stations and cleaning points. 


Aldi has not provided any specific guidance on touching food items in its stores. However, they do ask that customers only touch trolleys they intend to use when shopping.

The retailer has also asked customers to wash their hands often and avoid contact with eyes, nose and mouth.

Aldi has introduced trolley and basket cleaning stations across all its stores to help limit the spread of the virus.


There are no specific rules about handling food items at Tesco, the UK’s biggest supermarket chain.

But the retailer has asked its customers to increase their safety by sanitising their hands, baskets and trolleys using the cleaning stations set up around its stores.

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This rule also applies to its bakery. Here, the company says that as a temporary measure, it will be providing disposable gloves for customers to use to bag loose items themselves safely.


As of now, there are no explicit rules around touching food items at Sainsbury’s. 

But the company says that to increase safety, they have put up new sanitising stations that customers can use to disinfect their hands, baskets and trolleys.


Morrisons have not listed any special guidance on the handling of food items. However, they have stated that cleaning in their stores is thorough and frequent to ensure high standards of food safety.


Waitrose says that it has introduced hand sanitising stations and screens at checkouts to protect customers and partners. However, there are no specific rules around food handling at its stores.


While it is unlikely that you catch coronavirus from the food you eat, you could get infected if you handle food items that have already been touched by someone else who has the virus.

That’s why, for your safety and that of others, it’s good practice to only touch food that you intend to buy.  

To make your supermarket visit even safer, don’t forget to observe the other basic guidelines including wearing a face covering, observing social distancing rules and sanitising your hands before and entering the store.

Also, if possible, use a contactless or a cashless payment method like a debit or credit card instead of cash to limit contact with others during transactions.

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