It’s a question I’ve been getting a lot lately: Is it safe to order from restaurants right now? While you can’t go out for a meal at your favorite restaurant, many are still open for pick-up and delivery. Ordering in is a good way to support local businesses, not to mention maintain some degree of normalcy. Most food delivery services (see below) have even adjusted to the situation by offering “no-contact delivery” and waiving delivery fees. But is ordering safe with so many cases of COVID-19 out there?
There’s no way to guarantee 100% safety, of course, but the short answer, according to the experts, is yes. In this recent story, The Healthy asked food experts around the U.S. to weigh in, and the consensus was that especially if you take a few simple precautions, it’s safe to order from restaurants. Here are a few of the story highlights:
- Hot food is generally safe: “While there’s limited data, the coronavirus ‘seems to be about as sensitive to heat as other pathogens in food that can make you ill,'” in the words of Donald Schaffner, PhD, a “distinguished professor and extension specialist in food science with expertise in microbial risk assessment at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey.” Schaffner also says in the story that he recently ordered in from a favorite Thai restaurant. Microwaving food is a good idea if you want to be extra safe.
- Cold food is more of a risk: “It’s one thing to know your food was cooked (and cooked correctly under the right circumstances). However, it’s another to eat prepared cold dishes. ‘I would not eat cold foods that have been prepared by someone who I do not know,” says [Angela M. Fraser, PhD, a professor at Clemson University]. That’s because it’s not yet known how long this novel coronavirus survives on surfaces, she says.”
- How to you handle the food/packaging matters: “When you get the package of food, there are a few things you can do to reduce your risk without going overboard. Fraser says that she’d take the food out of the container and put it on a plate, wash her hands, and then microwave the hot food. If you’re really concerned, you can use utensils to eat handheld foods, like pizza, says Schaffner.”
- Delivery is safer than pick-up: No surprise here. “Social distancing involves minimizing the number of people you have contact with, says Fraser.”
- Don’t be afraid to call the restaurant to ask about their food practices…
Natalie and I haven’t ordered takeout since we’ve been quarantined because at least until now we weren’t sure that it was safe. Usually, we eat out multiple times a week and sometimes a day. Instead, we’ve been ordering groceries online using Shipt and making meals at home, which has been a nice change for us. We’re saving money and losing weight!
A few services providing food delivery (available in different locations)
- DoorDash (see how to get a premium account for free here)
- Uber Eats
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