Is It Safe To Get Take-Out During The Pandemic?

If you aren't particularly fond of your own cooking (or your partner's for that matter), we would understand if you came out as a critic of efforts to promote social distancing as a result of the COVID-19 coronavirus. After all, if you live in a community with no known cases, what could be worse than having to live off your own cooking or processed foods until health officials say it's safe to come out of your bunker?

But really, health and food safety officials also say there is no reason to worry about the integrity of restaurant meals in the time of COVID-19. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has said that there is no evidence to show that anyone might pick up the virus by touching food or food packaging if the virus happened to get on it, even if COVID-19 can survive on surfaces such as plastic. 

And even if you enjoy food products out of Europe, where the virus is causing much pain and disruption, there are no cases that link the virus with imported food (vie Mercury News). Restaurants are taking precautions against potential infections too, so you should be confident that many of them have doubled down on sanitation efforts to make sure nothing goes wrong.

Takeout is an option, even during the COVID-19 pandemic

And there's good news for you if you've spent all your adult life surviving on takeout — you don't have to stop. As a matter of fact, takeout could become the new lifeline for your favourite restaurants, whose existence may be threatened by the coronavirus. Martin Wiedmann, professor of food safety at Cornell University, tells the New York Post, "The risk of contracting coronavirus through food has been, and is, extremely small. Personally, I won't make any changes with how I receive food. If I order a pizza, I'm not going to leave the pizza box outside and bring the pizza in with my hands. Am I going to wash my hands before I eat pizza with my hands? Yes."

Some delivery apps like GrubHub and InstaCart are implementing contact-free delivery, which means they drop food off on your doorstep, while other food companies are offering free delivery to ease the pain of lost foot traffic. The most important thing perhaps is to thank your delivery guy by offering him a generous tip for braving the streets when you won't.

Weidmann says it's important to keep some perspective during the panic. "Even if I stay in my house and lock myself in, and eat no food, my risk of acquiring coronavirus is not zero," he said. "But my risk of dying of starvation is extremely high."