COVID 19: Is food delivery safe?

Cooking night after night can turn into a chore rather than something fun and novel. While this explains the rise in ordering takeout or delivery, is ordering outside food wise with COVID-19 around? The short answer is "Yes."

Both the Food and Drink Administration of the United States and the World Health Organization have confirmed that COVID-19 cannot be transmitted through food nor its packaging. SARS-COV-19 is spread through respiration, not oral contact.

A such, restaurants have implemented policies geared toward abiding by social distancing, to great effect. Places offering curbside service require employees to wear face masks and many also require gloves. Delivery services are doing contactless/hands-free deliveries, handling the delivery in a manner similar to a contact-free dead drop. According to recent statistics published by Olymel Food Services, one out of two restaurants have set up delivery or takeout services that abide by these rules.

It is important to remember that these policies supplement existing sanitation requirements in the food industry; hands are constantly washed, and the sick do not handle food. For instance, having pizza delivered is perfectly safe between the high temperatures of pizza ovens and abiding by contact-free delivery. Furthermore, some research seems to indicate that the cooking process renders the virus inactive on the dough and other toppings, meaning you are free to grab slices by hand.

The largest issue regarding contamination is contact with others. With takeout, the biggest risk comes from receiving the food from the employee. The ideal sequence would be for the employee to leave the food somewhere safe, leave the customer's area and then the customer goes to collect their food once the employee has moved at least 6 feet away from the food.

While keeping dish usage to a minimum helps cut down on washing them, a study by The New England Journal of Medicine found that coronavirus can linger on cardboard for up to a day; stainless steel and plastic can carry it for up to three days. The best practice is to either recycle or dispose of all packaging and give your hands a 20 second wash with hot soapy water. Since the external packaging of your food touches other people's hands in transit, all plastics should be disposed with immediately.

The bottom line

Ordering takeout does support your community and is viable so long as you have it delivered with social distancing in mind. The concern is the density of people breathing the same air within a closed space. It may be best to assign one asymptomatic person, neither over 60 years old nor immunocompromised, to receive food.

If you live in a community where walking is a viable option, walking to the eatery gives your mind and body a workout. You can work off some calories and receive a mental break from the monotony of quarantined.

While everyone should stay home as much as possible during a quarantine, that does not mean you have to stay inside that home forever. So long as you keep at least 6 feet of distance from other people, you are perfectly fine to leave your home in pursuit of food.