By Sean Zucker –
Based on CDC reports, the coronavirus is generally thought to be spread through person-to-person contact via respiratory droplets, which are produced by breathing, talking, sneezing, coughing, etc. Therefore, it is safe to order and consume take out and delivered foods—with a few provisos tacked on. The benefits of reaching out to your local restaurants go well beyond providing some culinary spice to your increasingly mundane pandemic diet. It also provides a crucial economic boost to restaurant employees and service workers, who have been hit particularly hard by the crisis, suffering huge financial setbacks due to their unfixed wages and lack of safety nets.
So, while the food industry is reeling, support it and treat yourself to a night of take out. Just don’t be careless about protecting your health. Thankfully, there are a few simple precautions to take that will greatly lower your chances of contracting or even possibly unknowingly transferring COVID-19.
Most crucial is to adhere to basic social distancing guidelines, maintaining a six-foot radius between you and whoever is handing out the food. Whether it’s a delivery to your door or the meal is being picked up onsite, it is essential not to resort back to the beautiful social norms of a couple months ago. That may seem nice, but it can be devastatingly risky. The CDC insists that maintaining proper 6-foot social distancing is the most effective way to limit the spread of COVID-19. Halting this practice, regardless of the situation, can have a disastrous spiraling effect.
Under the same umbrella of advice, don’t skimp on hand washing. Continue to follow the CDC’s guidelines by washing your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water as soon as you either arrive home or are given the delivery.
Another keep-safe piece of advice: remove the food from its given container entirely, place it into a new clean container from your home and wash your hands again. If you’re having trouble with this bit, here’s Dolly Parton repurposing the lyrics to “Jolene” to help you out.
While it may seem advisable to disinfect the containers and packaging the food is received in, it’s surprisingly unnecessary when the situation is handled correctly. Dr. Kristen Gibson, an associate professor of food safety and microbiology at the University of Arkansas, recently told the New York Post that cautious personal actions before, during and after taking food out of its takeout container are far more crucial than disinfecting the container itself. She clarified the most effective method of avoiding potential COVID-19 germs is to wash your hands before and after receiving and unpacking the food. Most importantly, she stressed is to avoid touching your face by any means necessary while moving food from its takeout container to home dish.
Any interaction with people outside the home may seem scary right now but there’s no need to punish your body or your palate with the same three dishes. Follow the CDC’s social distancing guidelines, add in a layer of extra caution, and digging into your favorite take out meals is still possible and safe.