BLOG

Are Food Delivery And Takeout Safe?

 Are food delivery and takeout safe

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been consistent on its messaging from the start of the outbreak: There’s no evidence that the coronavirus can be transmitted through food. It is “generally thought to be spread from person-to-person through respiratory droplets” from coughing or sneezing, the CDC notes. Our foodstuffs may be safe, but what about the packaging? The public has been especially concerned about disease transmission via inanimate objects since the New England Journal of Medicine published a study in mid-March that said the coronavirus was detectable on cardboard, plastics and other materials for many hours, and even days, after it was applied to the surfaces.

Food Safety Tips:

Within days of the study, medical professionals were suggesting we take extra, extra precautions to protect us from potentially harmful packages and containers we bring into the house. But recently in a Washington Post op-ed, Joseph G. Allen, an assistant professor of exposure and assessment science at Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, provided some much-needed perspective:

In the epidemiological world, we have a helpful way to think about it: the “Sufficient-Component Cause model.” Think of this model as pieces of a pie. For disease to happen, all of the pieces of the pie have to be there: sick driver, sneezing/coughing, viral particles transferred to the package, a very short time lapse before delivery, you touching the exact same spot on the package as the sneeze, you then touching your face or mouth before hand-washing.

In terms of takeaway, you can replace “driver” with “person packing your meal.” Either way, when you bring outside meals into the house, you should remove the food from the bags/packaging/containers and put it on clean dishware (and use your own utensils). If you want, you can use gloves to open the packaging/containers. When finished, you should throw away the materials or thoroughly clean and recycle them. You should immediately wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and hot water before eating. (If you don’t have soap and hot water available, a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol will suffice.) You should also clean and disinfect all surfaces where the packaging materials were placed. And don’t touch your face at any point.

In the months since the coronavirus outbreak began, more science has emerged on how it spreads. One study has suggested that the “digestive system other than the respiratory system may serve as an alternative route of infection,” which means that, theoretically, the virus could be transmitted via people who haven’t adequately washed their hands after using the bathroom.

“We can reasonably surmise that some transmissible virus happens from a stool, but we have no evidence to suggest that it is a major route of transmission,” says William Hanage, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “My judgment would be that the role of this in transmission is dwarfed by the contribution that is made by people who don’t even realize they are infected yet.”

“People should just wash their hands regularly and, in particular, when they’re preparing food,” Hanage adds.

What can you do to protect yourself from this potential route of transmission? Experts say the best way is to patronize only those restaurants/takeaways that you know and trust. But you can also track down city and county health inspection reports. They’re widely available online, whether in Los Angeles, New York, Washington or other jurisdictions. But be cognizant that reports may be old and outdated or may feature violations that have already been remedied by restaurant operators.

Recently, a story out of Skagit County, Wash., raised fears that the coronavirus may be transmitted through the air without an infected person coughing or sneezing. To date, however, the World Health Organization is sticking to its warning that the coronavirus is primarily transmitted via droplets from coughing and sneezing, largely downplaying the transmission through smaller air droplets, though not without considerable pushback from the public health community.

Restaurants and delivery services alike are keeping these concerns in mind. Delivery companies such such as hungryscholarapp will offer “contactless” options in which a driver will drop off your order on the porch or some other designated area. Similarly, some restaurants and coffee shops allow customers to pick up their orders from a counter, thereby avoiding contact with an employee.

Restaurants and delivery services alike are keeping these concerns in mind. Delivery companies such such as hungryscholarapp will offer “contactless” options in which a driver will drop off your order on the porch or some other designated area. Similarly, some restaurants and coffee shops allow customers to pick up their orders from a counter, thereby avoiding contact with an employee.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Start using the app

& discover restaurant nearest your area