These uncertain times have raised pressing new questions for food lovers and for those stuck at home. Is it safe to order delivery? To pick up takeout?
Two experts gave us their views – Dr. Eric Cioe-Peña is the director of global health at Northwell Health and an assistant professor at Hofstra University’s Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine. Dr. Jaimie Meyer is an assistant professor of medicine and assistant clinical professor of nursing at Yale School of Medicine.
What can customers do to protect themselves when ordering takeout food or via drive-thru? Is it generally safe to order food like this?
Dr. Eric Cioe-Peña: It is safe. Generally you want to remove the packaging of the food, then wash your hands, then eat. Don’t handle the outsides of packaging and then directly eat without that step in between so you dont contaminate your hands, but risk is low.
Dr. Jaimie Meyer: If you’re looking for some variety in your diet, need a change in scenery or want to support your local restaurants, ordering food for carry-out or drive-thru makes sense. If you do carry-out or drive-thru, you’ll want to keep your distance from other people as much as possible.
Consider going at less crowded times or staying outside or in your car until your order is ready. If you can, avoid touching high-touch surfaces. Practice good hand hygiene – wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
If you are ill with symptoms of COVID-19 (primarily fever or respiratory symptoms like cough or shortness of breath) or have been diagnosed with COVID-19, please stay home. If you do have to go out for essential services while you are ill, cover your mouth with a mask (or scarf if you can’t find a mask) … Of course, then you’ll have to ask yourself whether that quick trip through the drive-thru is really essential.
What can customers do to protect themselves when ordering delivery? Can they feel confident that it is generally safe to order food delivery?
Cioe-Peña: It is generally safe. Again, handwashing is paramount, especially after removing packaging.
Meyer: Delivery is a great way to maintain social distancing. When ordering delivery, the same basic principles apply as if you were ordering carry-out or drive-thru. Maintain as much distance as possible from other people. Consider asking the delivery person to leave the items on your doorstep or put a cooler outside of your door for dropoff.
If possible choose an electronic payment method (and tip those delivery people well who are putting themselves on the line to bring you pizza, cheeseburgers, and lo mein). Before eating, wash your hands with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Please be respectful of delivery people – if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been diagnosed with it (see above), and have to answer the door, please wear a mask or cover your mouth and nose with a scarf or other fabric. This is a great opportunity to wipe down and disinfect your light switches and doorknobs.
If a worker directly coughs or sneezes into food, what are the chances of catching coronavirus from eating that food?
Cioe-Peña: Not likely. The transmission is through the respiratory epithelium in your nose, mouth and eyes, unlikely to be transmitted IN the food, more likely on hands while holding food packaging.
Meyer: There has been no evidence to date of food-borne transmission of SARS-CoV-2. The primary mode of transmission of the virus from person to person is through direct inhalation of droplets (as in, being within six feet of someone when they cough or sneeze and breathing it in). The FDA has issued some nice information on food safety that complements recommendations from the CDC.
Source: Business Insider