The NY Post spoke to Dr. Kristen Gibson, an associate professor of food safety and microbiology at the University of Arkansas, about what you should know before you order food delivery. “I wouldn’t say avoid eating to-go food,” she says. Plus, you probably won’t get COVID-19 through consuming food. “The risk of contracting coronavirus through food has been, and is, extremely small,” Martin Wiedmann, a professor of food safety in Cornell University’s food science department, said.
Here are five tips on handling food during the coronavirus pandemic.
The safest option? Prep and cook your own food
“At home, you know who’s preparing your food, and you know if you’re ill or not,” says Gibson, adding that when other people are cooking up your chow, there’s “a higher risk of coming into contact with some sort of pathogen.” Still, she doesn’t go so far as to forbid your favorite joint.
Wash your hands before you eat delivery food
Some delivery platforms are starting to do contact-free delivery — dropping food at your doorstep so there’s no change of hands. Grubhub, which owns Seamless, and Instacart have both implemented these policies. A rep from Grubhub says they have also “provided drivers and restaurants with the CDC’s recommendations that focus on good hygiene.” Still, contactless delivery typically involves a handoff. If you accidentally touch while tipping your delivery person, just remember to wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water. “Even if you did wipe the outside of whatever container or bag it was delivered in, you need to wash your hands,” says the doc. And if you’re wondering if Lysol-ing takeout containers does anything: “It’s a big unknown,” says Gibson.
Don’t touch your face
You’ve heard this one before, but it’s especially important to remember when you’re tucking into dinner. “This is best practice all the time,” says Gibson, “That’s just cleanliness.” Many outlets have stepped up sanitary precautions.
Disinfecting packaging is less important than washing hands
What to do with food packaging can be confusing in the time of corona, and for good reason. “There’s different types of surfaces,” says Gibson, “I would consider cardboard a porous surface. It will absorb liquid [like sanitizer].” Hard countertops, on the other hand “can be disinfected more easily.” Skip the science degree and just remember to wash your hands after you handle any packages from the outside.
Hot food could kill the coronavirus
“Viruses are susceptible to heat,” says Gibson. The coronavirus, she says “would be inactivated, or killed, with food that is hotter.” That might mean zapping your takeout in the microwave or skipping the milkshake from your favorite burger joint.
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