Currently, in many cities, helping your local restaurant means ordering takeaway or delivery. Even if you are not dining in a crowded restaurant, you may be wondering how vigilant you should be with the foods offered through these delivery services. (You may also be wondering about disinfecting your food, which we also touched on.) Here are the best things to do when you get restaurant food delivery.
Practice social distancing with delivery agents
If possible, choose contactless delivery (so that you never come in close proximity to a delivery person), both for your safety and for the benefit of the delivery person. In Wuhan, China, where delivery services were serving a city due to lockdown, authorities urged neighborhoods to set up contactless delivery points to avoid dropping food, which can help reduce the risk for both the deliverer and recipient .
When ordering direct from the restaurant, indicate to the person ordering that the food should be delivered and put at your door and pay in advance with a credit card. If you order via an app, Postmates has introduced contactless delivery. With Grubhub and Seamless, you can personalize your order with instructions. Domino’s has also introduced contactless delivery, where customers can specify where the driver should place their order in the delivery instructions.
Once the delivery person arrives and sets off your food, wait for them to leave and for any possible breath droplets to disperse (let them be at least 10 feet away), then bring your food in. And of course a good tip. Any job with a high level of close contact can increase a person’s risk of illness.
How are you supposed to deal with food coming through the door?
You probably don’t need to hose down your bags and boxes with alcohol before touching them.
According to the CDC, most person-to-person transmission is believed to be via breath droplets that enter the nose, mouth and eyes. Since the virus is so new, there hasn’t been much research into its lifespan. A small study by members of the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases, Princeton and UCLA, found that the virus that causes COVID-19 can live on cardboard for up to 24 hours. But the CDC says that while it is possible for a person to get it from touching surfaces, it is not the main cause of the virus’ spread.
In an interview for the New York Times (Wirecutter’s parent company), North Carolina State University’s food safety specialist Ben Chapman discusses disinfecting mail deliveries, which include paper and plastic surfaces, and suggests only using your hands after handling the packaging washing instead of spraying everything down with disinfectant, which is still hard to find in many places. (The food safety team at North Carolina State University has also put together additional guidelines that suggest that the risk of contracting the coronavirus from shipping packaging is very low.)
And you probably don’t have to worry about the food (or at least no more than you normally would about food preparation). The CDC notes that there is currently no evidence of food transmission of COVID-19. “In general, the chances of getting this from cooked food, even if someone who is infected deals with it, are generally very slim,” said Stephen Morse, professor of epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health The Brian Teachers Show on WNYC on March 25th. Serious Eats has put together a great guide to food safety even in the coronavirus era.
Always wash your hands
The best thing you can do with food delivered is to follow the same good hygiene rules that you followed from the start: throw away the packaging and wash your hands thoroughly or use hand sanitizer before you eat. Most likely, your chicken tikka masala is fine, but clean hands are always the safest choice.