COVID-19 and Food Delivery

Update: I was recently interviewed by very well fit, you can see the article here!

Hello all,

Here is an increasingly common question I am getting during our “shelter-in-place” ordinance.

Is food delivery safe?

In medicine there is always a risk-benefit ratio in our decisions. Fortunately, grocery and food delivery can be safe, particularly if done following easy-to-follow principles to protect ourselves and our families. This is because the risk of contracting virus off surfaces (if treated properly) is often much lower than risking exposure at highly frequented, “essential services” locations, like grocery stores and pharmacies. Furthermore, how we prepare our foods can further minimize contact with infectious virus: cooking food can kill any remaining virus, rendering it safe to eat. Restaurant takeout can also be done safely, provided we take care to minimize exposure to packaging and utensils (the most likely exposure point). That being said, our goal is to minimize leaving our residences and interacting with other individuals as much as possible, and if we can obtain our food with one grocery delivery versus multiple restaurant take-outs, it may be more prudent to opt for few deliveries to minimize our exposure to the outside world.
However, given that both options can be done safely, I recommend my patients to always consider their peace of mind, as feeling comfortable about one’s decision (versus persistent doubt) is just as important a factor in our overall health, particularly in such a trying time.

The packaging and containers

Knowing that virus can survive on packaging and containers for several days, dispose of all packaging before bringing food into the house, and wash your hands immediately afterwards. If possible, leave the food items in a corner of the home for 2-3 days. If food is needed sooner, you can consider wiping the container surface with a virucidal wipe. It is important to recognize that most baby wipes do not have activity against common viruses, and they are ineffective in disinfecting surfaces with coronavirus. Fortunately, disinfecting wipes that are effective against other viruses are highly likely to be effective against the novel coronavirus. So it is important to select the correct disinfecting product.

Restaurant take out

When handling take-out food from a restaurant, it is safest to pour the food contents from the restaurant’s packaging directly onto your own utensils then dispose of the restaurant’s packaging immediately, followed by washing your hands. Utensils, including cups, bowls, chopsticks, forks, spoons, and napkins, all present possible viral exposures, so it is safest to use your own utensils.

Delivery etiquette

We need to adopt a new “social distancing” etiquette for deliveries: ask for delivery to be left on your doorstep. No delivery personnel should enter your home. Please thank your delivery man or woman, but do not shake their hands, and keep at least 6 feet distance with them at all times. Try to dispose of all packaging outside your door to avoid bringing any contaminated surfaces inside your home. If the items are not urgently needed, you can keep them in a corner of your home for several days to ensure that the virus dies before you handle anything.

Please stay safe while you support our economy!

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