The question “Is it safe to eat takeout during COVID?” has been on a lot of peoples lips because of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Before we get to answer the question, I will make us understand what TAKEOUT FOODS are.
What are takeout foods:
Takeout foods are prepared meals or other meal items, purchased at a restaurant or fast food outlets that the purchaser intends to eat elsewhere. They can also be termed Takeout; Carry-out; Take-away; Grab-n-go, etc.
Now that we have a full understanding of what takeouts are, now the question – Is it safe to eat takeout during COVID?
According to Angela L. Rasmussen, PhD, a virologist in the faculty of the Center for Infection and Immunity at the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, “There is no evidence that SARS-CoV-2 can be transmitted by eating food; this has also been confirmed by FDA (Food and Drug Administration). Dr. Rasmussen went further to say that if at all is was possible, the risk will be extremely low and that she is not aware of any human coronaviruses that can be transmitted through food.
Dr. Rasmussen believe that even if Coronavirus (COVID-19) does somehow make its way into your food despite every precaution, heat which is associated with cooked food will certainly inactivates the virus; although studies have not been done to describe the specific temperatures or durations at those temperatures at which inactivation occurs.
Dr. Rasmussen continue to say that – Food is not inhaled into the respiratory tract and any virus present will likely be inactivated in the stomach. It is a known fact that high acidity, low pH environments such as the stomach can both disrupt the envelope and degrade viral proteins and RNA that are other key components of the virus particle, the Coronavirus is not exempted.
But, like many things currently, getting takeout is not completely risk-free, but this risk can be reduced even further by following recommended CDC guidelines on hand washing and disinfecting outer packaging on takeaway containers.
Aside from food, have you thought about food delivery packages, grocery stores?
Perhaps it’s crossed your mind when you picked up a food order, grabbed a beverage at the drive-thru or ordered a pizza: How significant is the risk of COVID-19 when handling pickup and delivery items?
While the chances of transmission via food courier are quite low, experts say taking a number of precautionary steps can help minimize risk and put the mind at ease.
With home delivery for example, proper distancing with the driver is highly recommended.
“You always ask them just to leave it at the door,” said University of Guelph food science professor Keith Warriner. “You’ve got more chance of being infected by a person rather than a parcel.”
Research published in the New England Journal of Medicine last week suggests the virus can live for up to 24 hours on cardboard and on other surfaces, including plastic, for up to 72 hours.
While there’s a small possibility an infected person may have sneezed or coughed while handling your food order, chances that the virus will be passed along on the packaging are slim, said Warriner.
He said frequent hand-washing, particularly before or after handling food and containers, can further mitigate the risk. So handling that pizza box shouldn’t really be cause for heightened concern.
To stay protected, follow these safety precautions
North Carolina State University’s Extension program offers these tips for grocery shopping and extension for handling food package:
- Use hand sanitizer when entering stores, and wash your hands and/or use sanitizer as soon as possible after leaving.
- Try to maintain social distancing as much as possible while shopping.
- Avoid touching surfaces or items unnecessarily and avoid touching your mouth, nose or face.
- Do not go shopping when showing symptoms or think you have been exposed to the virus.
How should produce be handled?
- Consider using hand sanitizer before and after selecting produce items.
- Avoid touching multiple produce items when making selections.
- As per good food handling practices in general, wash hands before food preparation or eating, avoid touching the face and consider supplementing handwashing with the use of hand sanitizer.
- Wash produce as you usually do when preparing it.
What to do when you get home with the groceries/Food package?
When you get home with your groceries, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. Use soap and water or hand sanitizer if you have it. Do not touch your face after grocery shopping until you have washed your hands. Use hand sanitizer after you leave the grocery store.
Unpack your groceries, and, if you want and it will make you feel more comfortable, wipe down the cans and bags with disinfectant wipes or simple soap and water.
COVID-19 can remain on certain surfaces for many hours, but it does die out eventually. If you are preparing the food you just purchased, you can wipe the can, carton or bag with disinfectant wipes and kill any virus immediately.
It is important to wash your hands after you unpack your groceries, then thoroughly clean the surface your grocery bags touched. Disinfectant spray or wipes are good, or soap and water will work, as well.
- Try not to go to the store too often. Get what you need for the week – or longer if what you need is available – in one trip.
- Try to shop early in the morning when fewer people may be in the store. Remember, practice social distancing. Try to stay at least six feet away from people. You don’t want to be in a store jammed with people.
For takeout foods, you may decide to expose it to heat before eating if feasible.
In conclusion – Is it safe to eat takeout during COVID?
From all perspectives, the tendency of getting infected through the food you eat which passes directly into your stomach is very low. However, since it is not risk free if possible avoid it.
STAY SAFE – CONVID-19 IS REAL. FOLLOW PRECAUTIONS:
- STAY AT HOME
- MAINTAIN SOCIAL DISTANCING
- WASH YOUR HAND REGULARLY WITH SOAP AND RUNNING WATER OR USE HAND SANITIZER
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