Is It Safe To Get Food Takeout And Delivery?

Here's how to have food safely delivered during the COVID-19 pandemic

Let’s talk about this: is food takeout and delivery safe right now? I’m an Austin food blogger, not a health professional, so I won’t be sharing my own opinions. Rather, I’m going cite the credible sources that have been helpful to me. (Meaning: I’m not going to make stuff up…) I want this to be helpful for you, but I encourage you to please educate yourself by also checking facts on the CDC and WHO and FDA. And then continue supporting the local restaurants that need our love and business right now more than ever.

Also see: where to get farm-fresh produce in Austin during COVID-19

Is Food Takeout and Delivery Safe During The COVID-19 Pandemic? 

Let’s start with the basics of how you can get COVID-19 (and again, I’m just sharing the wealth of knowledge from the health pros, and please go check it out for yourself): the World Health Organization tells us that the virus spreads through droplets generated when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks. These droplets are too heavy to hang in the air, and so they fall to objects or surfaces around that person. Then, if you touch one of those surfaces and then touch your eyes, nose, or mouth, you can catch the virus. 

The CDC states that there’s currently no evidence that COVID-19 is transmitted with food. The FDA says the same thing. It’s pretty basic, but they both say that we should all use common sense and wash our hands for twenty seconds before and after we eat. The FDA also recommends using the 4 steps to food safety: clean, separate, cook, and chill. (AKA just more common sense…) 

Of course, there’s always the risk that someone who was preparing your food coughed/sneezed onto the food directly, which means the exterior of the food could be infected. (This is teeny-tiny chance, but hey, I’m just gonna err on the side of safety.) The inside of the food will be fine from the heat of cooking the food, but the exterior is the only small risk here. In that case, this Serious Eats guide gives thorough instructions on how to sterilize your food after it’s delivered, just to be certain that you’ve killed off any germs. (Because it doesn’t hurt to be extra careful these days.)  The WHO says that Coronaviruses are susceptible to normal cooking temps (158 degrees Farenheit). Please read more about it here.

Now, the question with food delivery is this: what if an infected person coughed on the container of food and then delivered it to my home? 

I just want to point something out: 

We all have to eat food to stay alive. So whether you’re walking into grocery stores, having groceries delivered through a service like instacart or HEB delivery, using UberEats, doing curbside pickup at restaurants, or just having packages from Amazon delivered to your house, you need to get food and supplies, and there’s always a human being who delivers those. The risk associated with food delivery is similar to the risk associated with having your groceries delivered: if an infected person coughs on the package before leaving it on your porch, then you touch the package, then you scratch your nose, you could catch COVID-19.

Now, the WHO isn’t clear about how long the virus can live on surfaces. It says that COVID-19 can live on surface for “a few hours up to a few days,” depending on the type of surface (hard and shiny like your phone, versus porous like cardboard.) 

What are the chances of catching the virus by touching a package (food or otherwise) that was delivered to your home? Very slim, according to the World Health Organization. There are a few basic steps you can take to keep yourself safe while also supporting your favorite local restaurants. (Again, this is all stuff you can find by educating yourself through the CDC, WHO, and FDA. Please go read all of those firsthand.) 

Now, the difference between a restaurant delivery and a grocery delivery is that you’ll most likely immediately be eating the food from a restaurant, aka putting your hands near your face, while the grocery delivery is going to go into your pantry or fridge and sit there for a few days. I just want to recognize that. 

If You’re Having Food Delivered….

Is takeout safe during the COVID-19 pandemic?

1. Ask for it to be left outside your front door. There’s often a box you can check that informs the delivery app or restaurant that they shouldn’t expect you to open your door. Keeping 6 feet between yourself and other humans is key to stop this virus from spreading further. 

2. Move the food out of the to-go containers and put it on clean plates. Don’t eat directly out of the containers…duh! Throw the containers away. 

3. Wash your hands. (Are you sick of people telling you to do this yet?) 😉 

4. Enjoy that godamn delicious food. Tip the restaurant. Rank them highly on yelp. Tell all your friends to support local restaurants. 

If you’re picking up your food from a restaurant…

Is takeout safe during the COVID-19 pandemic?

1. Try to find contactless curbside pickup. Most restaurants offer something like this. (ABGB has a really good method where you announce your name from 20 feet away, then walk up to a shelf to pick up your food….zero human contact.) The exact method isn’t important, but keeping 6 feet between you and other humans is crucial. 

2. Move the food out of the to-go containers and put it on clean plates. Even if it came directly from the restaurant, go ahead and take the food out of the containers and plate it, just in case the containers are contaminated. Plus, it’s way more fun to eat food off real plates. 

3. Wash your hands. (20 seconds, please.) 

4. Sink your teeth into that scrumptious burger. Or pizza. Or bolognese. Or tacos. Or… 

In summary: 

  • The FDA, CDC, and WHO state that there’s no current evidence that suggests that COVID-19 can be transmitted through food. 
  • The virus can live on surfaces, so wash your hands after touching any packages that arrive at your home. 
  • Picking up food at restaurants is great, but stay 6 feet away from others. Most restaurants offer contactless curbside pickup. 
  • If you’re having food delivered, ask for it to be left on the porch outside. When you bring it in, take the food out of containers and onto plates, throw the containers away, and wash your hands for 20 seconds. 
  • Is it safe to get takeout during COVID-19? Yes, but use common sense and keep surfaces and hands clean. Keep supporting your local restaurants!

Now share this with a friend who loves supporting local restaurants!

Here's how to have food safely delivered during the COVID-19 pandemic


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4 years ago

I have been thinking about this so much!! Thanks for the info ????????

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