OTTAWA -- Staying at home is the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during the pandemic, but at some point we all need to head to the grocery store to stock up on food.

Can you catch COVID-19 from the food you bring home? Should you clean the food before bringing it into the house?

Infectious diseases expert Dr. Abdu Sharkawy tells CTV News Ottawa “the simple answer to that is, probably not - and the reason for that is while the coronavirus can find its way onto surfaces, it’s important to know that it does not aerosolize on most surfaces, meaning that you’re not going to inhale it off of the grocery bag, or box of cereal.”

Dr. Sharkawy adds that washing your hands before and after handling your groceries is the most important thing you can do,

“If you’re going to become infected by this, you’re going to have to touch one of those surfaces with your hands and then introduce that to your eyes, mouth, or nose.”

Dr. Sharkawy insists there is no harm in wiping your groceries down.

“If your anxiety is going to be relieved by taking a few minutes to wipe down the exterior of anything that you’re handling, but all means go ahead.”

Now, if you decide to clean your groceries when you arrive home, here’s how you do it.

Dr. Dina Kulik explains, “you want to wash your hands first and foremost; you were just in a place that is probably filled with COVID on surfaces and on other people”

Not all items need to be brought into the house she adds, “things that are non-perishable, it’s easy to put them away somewhere where you’re not going to touch them for a few days if that’s possible; leave it in your car, your garage.”

As for the things you need to bring in, Dr. Kulik says “you want to make a clean space and a dirty space.   So you’re going to bring the groceries into the dirty space, clean them off and unwrap them, etc, and put them into the clean space, wash your hands again, and you can put them into the cupboard or fridge.”

What should you use to clean the groceries?

Dr. Kulik suggests “I would use a dilute bleach solution; you could take one cup of bleach with one gallon of water or some combination thereof, and that will help clean the surface; or alcohol based solutions that have 70 per cent or more alcohol.”

Both doctors do share the same message to protect you and your family from COVID-19: limit your visits to the grocery store, and it should only be one person per household doing the shopping - it’s not a social outing.