Is take-out and delivery food safe to order during the coronavirus pandemic?
With dining in restaurants off the table, many Americans are wondering if take-out and delivery food options are still viable in the age of coronavirus.
Luckily for people tired of their own home cooking, the answer is, by and large, yes.
According to the CDC, transmission of COVID-19 primarily happens person-to-person, so your largest risk is not in the food but in human interaction. Keep your distance as much as possible when picking up food, or request that delivery workers leave the food on your doorstep. As with other in-person interactions, remember to avoid touching your face and be sure to wash your hands thoroughly as soon as you can.
"It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads," the CDC says.
While it is true that coronavirus can survive for hours on surfaces like cardboard, there are currently no confirmed cases of anyone getting the virus from only touching a contaminated surface. According to the CDC, respiratory droplets — released by coughs or sneezes — are the primary modes of infection.
"We are not aware of any reports at this time of human illnesses that suggest COVID-19 can be transmitted by food or food packaging," the USDA says on its site. "However, it is always important to follow good hygiene practices (i.e., wash hands and surfaces often, separate raw meat from other foods, cook to the right temperature, and refrigerate foods promptly) when handling or preparing foods."
The USDA also says there is "no evidence to suggest that food produced in the United States can transmit COVID-19."
The best practice is to immediately remove your food from its to-go containers upon getting home. Those containers should go in the trash or recycling, and then you can wash your hands and proceed on with your meal.
If you're still worried, you can always reheat the food again, preferably on the stovetop as microwaves distribute heat unevenly.
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Katie Dowd is a senior digital editor with SFGATE. Email her: email@example.com