When the novel coronavirus first appeared in late 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) called it novel for a reason. It was a new virus with no prior exposure to humanity. Misinformation traveled around the globe quickly. People worried about the many potential ways to transmit or acquire the disease, including through food packaging.
This became especially important as nearly every restaurant that could transitioned from a dine-in model to take-out or drive-thru only. Fortunately, researchers quickly discovered that the chances of the virus transferring from food or its packaging to people is extremely low. That is because the largest risk comes from exposure to people already exhibiting symptoms.
Specific Steps to Reduce Food Delivery Risk
Despite the extremely low risk, the elderly, immune compromised, and others concerned for their health can take additional precautions when ordering food from a restaurant. These include:
- Studies indicate that the coronavirus starts dying at a temperature of 149 degrees Fahrenheit. That means ordering hot food and then heating up the leftovers can eliminate any degree of risk.
- Remove take-out food from its container and place it into a bowl or plate from home. This makes it impossible to transfer any potential virus from the container to kitchen counters.
- For people having food delivered at home, asking for contactless delivery can be a good option. Restaurants and delivery services that offer this option make it easy to pre-pay for the meal online. There is also the option to leave a tip.
- Look for restaurants that make note of their sanitization policies or procedures for ordering takeout or delivery on their website.
How Restaurants Can Set Up No Contact Delivery
For restaurants offering contactless delivery, the first step is for the carrier to contact the customer by phone or text to ask where to leave the food. The carrier should stress that he or she is currently healthy but only looking out for the customer’s safety. Arranging for a location to place the food and for the carrier to stand a distance away to ensure that customer received it is also advisable.
Customers can also be the one to initiate contactless delivery when completing their online order or calling it in. Upon delivering the food, the carrier can take a photo of it and text to the customer. He or she can then come out of the house to pick it up.
Safety Tips When Sending a Family Member to Pick-up Food
If possible, the same person should go to the restaurant each time. This minimizes the risk to the rest of the household. However, the person should be less than 60 years old and not have a chronic health condition like diabetes. After arriving home, the designated person should wash his or her hands immediately and remove shoes before coming in the door.
Eating food from a restaurant certainly looks different than it once did. It takes diligence, but eventually these safety practices will become routine. By that time, restaurants may open as usual and people will already know the extra precautions, they need to take to safeguard their health.