Food safety to go: How to handle food delivery, takeout, and groceries in times of COVID-19

Is it safe to order food via take-out or delivery?

Food safety to go: How to handle food delivery, takeout, and groceries in times of COVID-19
A restaurant employee wears a protective mask as he carries freshly made meals for delivery - Photo: Lynne Sladky/AP
English 19/06/2020 17:22 Miranda Perea/EL UNIVERSAL in English & AP Actualizada 16:06
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Unlike some germs, there is no indication the coronavirus can spread through food, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

“This is a respiratory virus, not a foodborne virus ... you can’t catch it from eating food,” says Michelle Danyluk at the University of Florida, which published tips on food safety amid the pandemic.

“There is consistent agreement among the Centers for Disease Control, the Food and Drug Administration, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture that there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with the transmission of COVID-19,” she explained

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The CDC mentions that whether food is shipped to your home or delivered by a local service, it needs to stay at a safe temperature to prevent the growth of germs that could cause food poisoning.

It also said that, in case of picking up takeout food, people should order and pay online or over the phone when possible, accept take-out without in-person contact, and wash their hands with soap and water after bringing home or receiving their food.

For its part, the FDA issued several recommendations for retail food stores, restaurants, and food pick-up/delivery services during the pandemic that include: establishing food safety practices, having employees constantly washing their hands with soap and water, constantly cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces, practicing social distancing when delivering food, ensuring any wrapping and packaging used for food transport is done so that contamination of the food is prevented, and routinely cleaning and sanitizing coolers and insulated bags used to deliver foods.

Regarding groceries, the FDA says that although there is no evidence of food packaging being associated with the transmission of COVID-19, you can wipe down product packaging and allow it to air dry as an extra precaution.

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Likewise, the USDA advises keeping food safety in mind when delivering and receiving groceries or prepared meals. Perishable foods should not stay out of refrigeration for more than two hours or one when the local weather is hot. It also says hot food should be kept hot while cold food should be kept cold.

The biggest concern remains person-to-person contact. Contactless delivery, in which the order is left outside the recipient’s door, reduces that risk.

For takeout, the FDA advises restaurant workers and customers to stay at least six feet from others.

To be safe, Danyluk advises hand washing before and after touching food or packaging.

So now you know, it is completely safe to order food delivery! Just bear in mind basic COVID-19 prevention measures. In case you surrender to your cravings, Mexico City has plenty of options whether you long for a tasty hamburger with french fries, a decadent dessert to take you on a new culinary experience, gourmet chocolates for days, or the best fried chicken in town.

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