The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly changed the way we used to dine out and food service guidelines. For some of us that has been a big adjustment. Group dinners with friends may have turned into quieter homemade meals with immediate family members. While the thought of piling into a restaurant doesn’t sound as appetizing as hot, roast beef po boy there is some good news when it comes to protecting yourself against COVID-19.
Can COVID-19 be transmitted through food?
There is no evidence that COVID-19 can be spread through food like foodborne viruses, such as hepatitis A. However, it’s important to take precautions since COVID-19 can be spread through respiratory droplets by way of coughing, sneezing or talking. This means it's possible for an infected person to cough or sneeze on food or food packaging, thus contaminating it.
How do I stay safe when ordering takeout?
Contracting the virus via food packages is low risk but there are many things you should do to stay safe:
- Take food out of packaging and place it on a clean plate.
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling the food.
- If there is no soap available use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Don’t forget to clean and disinfect all surfaces where the food packaging was placed.
How to stay safe when cooking at home?
There are also food safety precautions you should take if you are preparing your meals at home:
- Clean and disinfect any surfaces before and after placing packaged food or produce.
- Make sure to freeze or refrigerate foods within two hours of purchasing.
- Rinse produce with water and dry before storing.
- Make sure that meats are thoroughly cooked to prevent foodborne illness.
- Wash reusable grocery bags after every trip.
How to stay safe when dinning within a restaurant?
As we move to phase three and more restaurants start to fit a larger capacity, there are some things to consider:
- Wear a mask! It’s important to wear a mask, regardless of how many people are in the restaurant. Don’t forget to wear your mask when walking through the restaurant or going to the bathroom.
- Eat outdoors if possible.
- Make sure the tables are still socially distant.
- Ask your server to disinfect your table.
- Wash your hands before eating.
Make sure you are taking all safety precautions whether you are ordering takeout, cooking your own food or returning to your favorite restaurant. The only thing you should be worried about is if you should get a side of gumbo with that po boy.