Many restaurants were forced to close due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, leaving only food delivery or takeout as options besides going to the grocery store. This may leave many people who want to protect against the virus wondering: Is takeout safe?
Currently, there is no evidence of coronavirus being transmitted through food, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as long as the food industry continues to follow proper hygiene practices.
Food and the Coronavirus
Cooking food to a safe temperature, such as 165 degrees Fahrenheit, is going to kill any virus particles that might have gotten onto food.
Food is considered low risk because COVID-19 is a respiratory virus, meaning it's primarily passed from person to person in droplets when someone who is infected sneezes or coughs.
Unlike bacteria, viruses do not have the capability to grow inside food as they would in a living person or animal. To be extra safe, you can reheat the food to kill any virus particles on the surface.
Likewise, the packaging of the food – wrappers, containers and bags – should be removed and discarded after you put the food onto a clean plate. Current research has found that the novel coronavirus can live up to 72 hours depending on the surface.
Can a Sick Employee Contaminate Food?
Restaurants are required to follow strict food safety standards, mostly to avoid the transmission of foodborne illness. These standards will also help prevent the coronavirus from getting into your food.
For extra precaution, the FDA has recommended that restaurants implement double cleaning and sanitation efforts during this time. Experts also recommend you call any restaurant you plan on ordering from and ask what precautions they are taking.
Takeout Safety Tips
- Instead of using a food delivery service, such as DoorDash, order directly from the restaurant, if possible. This will limit the amount of people touching your food.
- If you do order from a third party, opt for contactless delivery if you can. The delivery person will leave your food directly outside your door.
- Wash your hands and transfer your food from its original container to a plate. Throw away the original container and bags immediately.
- Wash your hands again for at least 20 seconds before you eat.
- Use your own utensils instead of plastic utensils that may come with the meal.
- When you are finished eating, wash your dishes and wipe down your table and countertops.
Remember, ordering takeout is considered safe during this time, as any real risk of contamination would come from the worker handling the food rather than the food itself.
Ordering takeout can provide you and your family with some sense of normalcy while giving you a chance to support your favorite restaurant during this challenging and uncertain time.