- Is Eating Takeout Food Safe During The Coronavirus Pandemic?
- The best takeaway food choices for cyclists
- Fish and chips
- How safe is takeaway food and grocery shopping?
- What's the risk in shops?
- What about the shopping itself?
- How safe are home deliveries?
- What do I need to know about the coronavirus?
- What about takeaways?
- Healthier takeaways
- You can still order takeout and delivery. Tips to help with food safety worries
- Takeaway food definition and meaning
- Trends of
- Can you catch coronavirus from takeaway food and food packaging?
- Heat kills coronavirus, refrigeration does not
- Food hygiene is important
- What about fresh produce, loose vegetables and fresh baked bread?
- How long can coronavirus live on various surfaces?
- To takeout or not to takeout food? Things to consider during the coronavirus pandemic
Is Eating Takeout Food Safe During The Coronavirus Pandemic?
Many restaurants are permitted to stay open during the COVID-19 outbreak to serve takeout food, but … [+] is it safe to eat? (Photo by Zhao Jun/China News Service via Getty Images)
China News Service via Getty Images
As businesses are shuttered all over the world, chefs in restaurants are continuing to cook meals for the public, healthcare workers and those in vital services, with their restaurants allowed to stay open while other places are forced to close. But is there any chance of becoming sick with COVID-19 from eating takeout foods?
“There is no evidence that SARS-CoV-2 can be transmitted by eating food. I imagine that if this is possible, the risk is extremely low,” said Angela L. Rasmussen, PhD, a virologist in the faculty of the Center for Infection and Immunity at the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, adding that she is not aware of any human coronaviruses that can be transmitted through food.
Current recommendations to prevent the spread of coronavirus are frequent hand washing and avoiding touching the face, to reduce the chance of any virus present reaching the respiratory tract.
Such practices are routine among properly trained chefs anyway, even without the current coronavirus pandemic and another recent Forbes article discussed extra measures that chefs and restaurants are taking to keep patrons safe during the outbreak.
But even if coronavirus does somehow make its way into your food, despite these precautions, are you at risk of getting it? There seems to be a number of points throughout cooking and eating food which seem to make this unly, so let’s go through them.
First of all, can heat from cooking inactivate viruses should they make it into food?
“Heat almost certainly inactivates the virus, although studies have not been done to my knowledge describing the specific temperatures or durations at those temperatures at which inactivation occurs,” said Rasmussen.
Most of our favorite takeaways, from pizza to stir fries are cooked at very high temperatures, but what about cold food?
“We don’t have any data on this. Although hot food is less ly to have infectious virus present depending on the temperature of the food, risk of contracting SARS-CoV-2 through eating any food is extremely low. Food is not inhaled into the respiratory tract and any virus present will ly be inactivated in the stomach,” said Rasmussen.
Although it may be hard to stomach, even the most well-prepared food, either at home or prepared by restaurants, can contain some microbes that could be potentially harmful to health, but these only rarely get us sick as people have an in-built defense against this – stomach acid.
“High acidity, low pH environments such as the stomach can both disrupt the envelope and degrade viral proteins and RNA that are other key components of the virus particle,” said Rasmussen.
But, many things currently, getting takeout is not completely risk-free, but this risk can be reduced even further by following recommended CDC guidelines on hand washing and disinfecting outer packaging on takeaway containers.
There are, however, certainly some viruses which can be transmitted through food and make us sick. Norovirus outbreaks are famous for shutting down restaurants, hotels and particularly cruise ships. Although the coronavirus has definitely spread on cruise ships, there is no current evidence that this was through food. So what are the differences between coronaviruses and noroviruses?
“The SARS-Cov-2 virus and norovirus are different viruses with different outside components.
The coronavirus capsid (or protein shell) is surrounded by a lipid envelope that can be dissolved relatively easily by soap and water,” said Mary K. Estes, Ph.
D, Professor at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas who researches gastrointestinal viruses. “Noroviruses have a capsid without a lipid envelope,” she added, meaning they are not as easily combated by soap and water.
Norovirus is mainly thought to spread through fecal-to-oral transmission and there have been some cases where the coronavirus has been detected in the feces of those infected, so does this pose a risk?
“Both infectious virus and viral RNA have been detected in the stool of some—but not all—patients. This means there is a possibility of fecal transmission. However, it’s critical to note that there is no evidence that fecal transmission has occurred, much less is an important driver of transmission,” said Rasmussen.
The high standard of food safety training for chefs and people who prepare food should mean that they are better than most of us at ensuring hand hygiene, but there are also other differences between the viruses which mean that coronaviruses are far-less ly to pose a risk from consuming food than noroviruses.
“Noroviruses are much more stable viruses [than coronaviruses] and remain on surfaces for quite long periods of time in the environment and in food. Both of these viruses will be killed in cooked food so eating well cooked, hot food should be safe,” said Estes.
“Fecal transmission risks, while ly already low, can be further reduced by practicing good hand hygiene and taking droplet precautions,” said Rasmussen.
The best takeaway food choices for cyclists
If you’re self-isolating or social distancing this weekend (you should be!) due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, it may be tempting to order in a takeaway.
But won’t that undo all the hard work you’ve been doing on the indoor trainer? Not if you choose your dishes wisely, says healthy food expert Karen Reid.
With a little care you can still enjoy a little self-indulgence without too much self-sacriﬁce.
The key is to:
- Choose lean meats such as chicken or chargrilled ﬁsh
- Choose steamed or boiled rice or noodles rather than fried
- Choose tomato-based or dry curry dishes such as jalfrezi, tandoori or bhuna, rather then creamier dishes such as korma
- Share fries, rice or naan instead of having a portion to yourself
And to avoid:
- Fatty meats, such as lamb or duck
- Battered dishes
- Extra cheese, or stuffed crust pizzas
There are also many items that you can substitute in order to make your take-out meal healthier:
- Instead of mayonnaise-based dips and sauces, opt for yoghurt dips (such as raita) or tomato sauce
- Instead of cheese-stuffed crusts or deep pan bases on your pizza, go for a thin crust version
- Opt for a side salad instead of garlic bread or dough balls
Here are a few guidelines on what to pick and what to avoid when indulging in some of the UK’s most popular takeaways.
Chinese meals tend to contain a lot of vegetables and, if you avoid the deep-fried items the dishes, don’t usually have too much fat.
Choose items with lean meat such as chicken or a vegetarian alternative such as tofu – this will up the protein content, which is essential for muscle recovery.
“Check the descriptions of how items are cooked on the menu, as it will usually say if they involve frying,” says Reid, “and choose aromatic steamed rice or plain boiled rice instead of a fried rice, as the grains absorb a lot of fat.”
When ordering Chinese try to avoid the deep fried foods. Westend61 / Getty
Reid also suggests using chopsticks if you aren’t used to eating with them. “This can slow your rate of consumption which gives your brain a chance to react when your stomach is full, preventing overeating,” she says.
Good choice: 350g sweet & sour chicken (582kcal, 33g carb, 30g fat, 57g protein), 150g portion boiled rice (200kcal, 40g carb, 1.5g fat, 4.5g protein)
Bad choice: 350g kung pao chicken (850kcal, 25g carb, 56g fat, 51g protein), 150g portion egg fried rice (279kcal, 49g carb, 10g fat, 6.6g protein)
When choosing an Indian takeaway, avoid dishes that are oil-based or contain a lot of coconut cream, such as korma or tikka masala. “A lot of Indian food is cooked in oil or ghee to fuse the spices together and improve the taste. When dishing up, try to leave the layer of oil behind in the carton,” says Reid.
Avoid fried breads such as paratha and puri, and be careful of the fat in pilau rice. “Opting for boiled rice instead of pilau will save you around 150kcal and 12g fat per portion,” Reid advises.
Instead, stick to tomato-based dishes, and plain rice or naan to cut down the fat but still keep up carbohydrate and protein levels to stay in prime riding condition.
Tikka masala with paratha bread isn’t the best choice of Indian. Westend61 / Getty
Good choice: 350g prawn jalfrezi (400kcal, 21g carbohydrate, 21g fat, 40g protein), 150g boiled rice (200kcal, 40g carbohydrate, 1g fat, 4.5g protein)
Bad choice: 350g chicken korma (800kcal, 15g carb, 35g fat, 40g protein), 150g pilau rice (350kcal, 40g carbohydrate, 13g fat, 5g protein)
Fish and chips
“Food from the ﬁsh and chip shop is almost all covered in batter and deep fried. So the only way to really save yourself from the bad stuff is to remove some – or all – of the batter before eating,” suggests Reid, although some chip shops do offer fish steamed these days, instead of fried.
She also recommends thick-cut chips because they contain more potato and less fat than the thin crispy types. Having mushy peas or beans as a side instead of chips will save almost 30g fat.
Your choice of ﬁsh is also important. Reid says: “Choosing salmon instead of plaice or cod is much better for you, as salmon is an oily ﬁsh that’s high in omega 3 fatty acids, which help reduce your risk of heart disease, and is believed to increase blood ﬂow to the muscles and lower post-workout inﬂammation.”
Ideally, you want to remove some of that batter before you tuck in. nicolamargaret / Getty
Good choice: 170g salmon (295kcal, 10.3g carbohydrate, 11.8g fat, 14.7g protein), 100g mushy peas (86kcal, 14.3g carb, 0.5g fat, 6.2g protein)
Bad choice: 200g fried plaice in batter (514kcal, 24g carb, 18g fat, 15g protein), 240g chips (574kcal, 73g carbohydrate, 30g fat, 8g protein)
“Pizza has a very high carbohydrate content, so if you’re carb-loading before an event it can be included in your diet – in moderation of course,” says Reid.
However, unless you’re purposefully upping your carb content go for a thin base and don’t add extra cheese because this will up the fat content considerably.
“Choose a topping such as seafood which is relatively low fat and has a high protein content, and consider making up a salad to go with it while you wait for it to be delivered,” says Reid. “Fill half your plate with it, so there’s less room for the pizza.”
This is a better choice of pizza than a meat feast with cheese-stuffed crusts, unsurprisingly. Credit: Anthony King / EyeEm
Reid also suggests that you avoid cheese-stuffed crusts and those little pots of garlic mayonnaise-based dips that sometimes accompany takeaway pizza – they’re full of fat. And don’t be tempted by ‘three for two’ offers unless there really are enough people to eat them all.
Good choice: 350g (three large slices) seafood pizza (700kcal, 20g fat, 90g carbohydrate, 46g protein)
Bad choice: 350g (three large slices) meat feast pizza (850kcal, 31g fat, 85g carbohydrate, 48g protein)
“Having a Saturday night kebab might seem a terrible idea, evoking images of drunken 3am food-stops, but if you pick carefully it can actually be one of the most healthy options,” says Reid. She suggests picking a chicken shish kebab in a pitta bread with loads of salad.
“Don’t have any mayonnaise, though; if you want a sauce go for a mint yogurt.” Reid adds that you should always ask how the chicken is prepared to make sure it isn’t cooked in loads of oil and fat.
A chicken kebab is okay, a lamb one, not so much. Alex Kehr, Flickr.com
Good choice: 150g portion chicken shish kebab (232kcal, 25g carbohydrate, 4g fat, 20g protein)
Bad choice: 230g portion lamb doner kebab (586kcal, 32g carbohydrate, 37g fat, 26g protein)
How safe is takeaway food and grocery shopping?
By Victoria Gill Science correspondent, BBC News
Image copyright Getty Images
Remember a time – just a few weeks ago – when a trip to the supermarket wasn't restricted to the “basic necessities” to be done “as infrequently as possible”?
Those were the words Boris Johnson used about the new approach to shopping as he outlined the government's curbs on daily life, to limit the spread of coronavirus. He said people should “use food delivery services where you can”.
But what are the safest ways to go shopping for food or accept a delivery or takeaway at home?
What's the risk in shops?
Coronavirus spreads when an infected person coughs small droplets – packed with the virus – into the air. These can cause an infection if they are breathed in, or potentially if you touch a surface they have landed on.
So going shopping and mixing with other people does carry a risk. That is why social distancing – keeping at least 2m (about 6ft) from others – is so important, and many shops are enforcing it.
Supermarkets can provide an “ideal setting” for virus transfer, says Prof Sally Bloomfield, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. “Many people are touching and replacing items, checkout belts, cash cards, car park ticket machine buttons, ATM payment buttons, paper receipts etc… Not to mention being in the proximity of several other people.”
There are ways to offset these risks:
- Wash hands for 20 seconds with soap and water, or with alcohol-based hand sanitiser before and after shopping
- Treat surfaces as if they may be contaminated, meaning you avoid touching your face after handling shopping trollies, baskets, packages and produce
- Use contactless payment methods
What about the shopping itself?
There is no evidence of Covid-19 being transmitted through food, and thorough cooking will kill the virus. The UK Food Standards Agency website has advice on food safety at home.
Image copyright Getty Images
But while there is no such thing as “zero risk”, says Prof Bloomfield, it is packaging – handled by other people – that is a chief concern.
Online advice for food businesses says: “Food packaging is not known to present a specific risk.” However, some independent experts have additional advice.
“For contained or packaged goods,” says Prof Bloomfield, “either store them for 72 hours before using them or spray and wipe plastic or glass containers with bleach [that is carefully diluted as directed on the bottle].
“For unwrapped fresh goods, which could have been handled by anyone – wash thoroughly under running water and leave to dry,” she adds.
How safe are home deliveries?
Delivery slots permitting, a home drop is less risky than a trip to a supermarket as you will avoid other shoppers. The risk is possible contamination of the surface of any food or package, or from the delivery driver.
Food safety expert and blogger Dr Lisa Ackerley suggests leaving a note on your front door asking the driver to ring the bell and step back. This would allow you to safely pick up your food, alone.
What about the networks of volunteers springing up to help local vulnerable and elderly people?
To remove any fear of the virus being on surfaces, Dr James Gill, of Warwick Medical School, advises: “Wiping over surfaces with simple diluted household bleach will inactivate the virus within one minute.”
What do I need to know about the coronavirus?
Prof Alison Sinclair, a virology expert from the University of Sussex, adds: “There should be no more risk from using an online delivery service than using a friend or volunteer collecting the groceries for you.”
Some experts also advise using plastic bags only once during this pandemic.
What about takeaways?
Image copyright Getty Images
Many local restaurants have repurposed their businesses as takeaways. Reputable chains and good restaurant kitchens are most ly to be geared towards professional, hygienic food preparation, so there would be minimal risk from a freshly cooked takeaway meal.
The risk of packaging contamination can be minimised, Prof Bloomfield advises, by “emptying the contents [into a clean dish], disposing of the packaging into a refuse bag and washing your hands thoroughly before you eat”.
“Take food a container with a spoon and eat it with a knife and fork – not your fingers.”
It might be better in the current circumstances to order hot, freshly cooked food, rather than cold or raw items. The Food Standards Agency does stress that the risk from food is low and that “there is no reason to avoid having ready-to-eat food delivered if it has been prepared and handled properly”.
For the most cautious and the most vulnerable though, careful preparation and cooking may be reassuring. “With a pizza for example, if you wanted to be really safe, you could even pop it into the microwave for a couple of minutes,” Prof Bloomfield adds.
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Takeaways are often cheap, convenient and satisfying but, unfortunately, they're not always very healthy.
Some takeaway meals can push you over your recommended daily maximum amount of salt and fat, which can lead to a variety of health problems, such as heart disease and diabetes.
Some takeaways and restaurants now list calories on their menus, which helps you make a healthier choice.
Below are some tips on foods to avoid and healthier options when ordering your favourite takeaway.
There are lots of ways to make your trip to the chippy a healthier one. Have a portion of baked beans or mushy peas with your fish and chips. Watch out for other foods that are high in fat, such as pies and sausages.
The thicker the chips the better, because they absorb less fat. Try to have a smaller portion or share your chips. Ask for your fish and chips without salt – if you want some salt, then add a small amount yourself.
Don't eat all the batter around your fish, because it soaks up a lot of fat. If available, have fish coated in breadcrumbs, as it soaks up less fat.
Fish and chips that are cooked in oil at the right temperature taste better and absorb less fat. So watch out for soggy batter and chips, because this is often a sign that the oil wasn't hot enough.
- Try to avoid: thin-cut chips, pies such as cheese and onion or steak and kidney, and jumbo sausages.
- Healthier options: fish coated in breadcrumbs, mushy peas, thicker-cut chips without salt.
If you're having pizza, choose lower-fat toppings, such as vegetables, ham, fish and prawns. You could ask for some extra veg on your pizza to bump up your daily fruit and veg portions. But if you don't want to increase the saturated fat content and number of calories in your meal, don't ask for extra cheese.
With pasta dishes, if you want a lower-fat option go for a sauce that's tomatoes or vegetables, rather than cream.
If you're having a starter or a dessert, then you could go for a smaller main meal, such as a starter-size pasta with a side salad – Italian restaurants often serve 2 sizes of pasta dishes.
Rather than garlic bread, which often contains a lot of butter (and is therefore high in fat), you could try bruschetta, which is a tasty ciabatta bread toasted and topped with fresh tomatoes and herbs.
- Try to avoid: large deep-pan pizzas, pizzas with a cheese-stuffed crust, triple cheese with pepperoni pizzas, creamy pasta sauces, garlic bread.
- Healthier options: small or medium pizzas with a thin base and vegetable or lean meat topping, tomato-based pasta sauces, bruschetta.
Anything that's battered or marked as “crispy” on the menu means it's deep-fried. Watch out for starters such as prawn crackers and spring rolls, because these are generally deep-fried. Anything in batter will be high in fat. Sweet and sour pork is usually battered.
Steamed dishes are the best option, but stir-fries are fine because they're usually lower in fat and include vegetables.
- Try to avoid: sweet and sour battered pork balls with special or egg-fried rice, prawn toast, spring rolls.
- Healthier options: crab and corn soup, steamed dumplings, steamed vegetables and plain boiled rice, steamed fish, chicken chop suey, Szechuan prawns.
Try to stick to stir-fried dishes or steamed dishes containing chicken, fish or vegetables instead of curries.
Thai curries, such as the popular green and red curries, contain coconut milk, which is high in saturated fat. If you choose a curry, try not to eat all the sauce. Have some steamed rice with your meal instead of egg-fried rice.
- Try to avoid: fried rice, fishcakes, spring rolls, prawn crackers, satay skewers with peanut sauce, and sweet and sour dishes.
- Healthier options: clear soups such as tom yum, salads, stir-fried meat, fish or vegetable dishes, and steamed seafood dishes, such as fish or mussels.
Try to avoid anything that's creamy or deep-fried. To reduce the amount of fat in your meal, choose dishes with tomato-based sauces, such as jalfrezi and madras, or tandoori-cooked meat, plain rice or chapatti. Also choose plenty of vegetables, including lentil side dishes (known as dhal or dal).
- Try to avoid: any creamy curries, such as korma, passanda or masala with pilau rice, naan, bhajis, pakoras and poppadoms.
- Healthier options: tandoori-cooked meat or jalfrezi or madras with chicken, prawns or vegetables, plain rice and chapatti.
Doner kebabs can be high in fat. For a healthier option, go for a shish kebab, which is a skewer with whole cuts of meat or fish and is usually grilled.
If you're having a burger, avoid breaded or battered chicken or fish patties, extra cheese, bacon strips and high-fat sauces such as mayonnaise. Instead, go for a regular, single-patty hamburger without mayonnaise or cheese and have with extra salad.
- Try to avoid: large doner kebab with mayonnaise and no salad, burgers with cheese and mayonnaise, thin-cut chips, chicken or fish patties deep-fried in batter.
- Healthier options: shish kebab with pitta bread and salad, grilled burgers made from lean fish or meat (beef or whole chicken breast) and without cheese and mayonnaise.
You can still order takeout and delivery. Tips to help with food safety worries
Pick up your food from your door after your contactless delivery is dropped off.
You can’t eat out at restaurants right now but you can — and should, according to Mayor Garcetti — support them (and eat well!) with takeout and delivery orders.
I’ve always been, let’s call it fastidious, about food safety in the kitchen, many chefs and cooks.
Restaurants and delivery services are enacting even more food safety measures than those they already had in place.
And while nothing in life is guaranteed and little is certain at this time, the guidelines at the city and state level recognize delivery and takeout food as safe for you and your family.
“There is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food,” according to the CDC.
“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.” And if you wash your hands between touching the surface and your face, you’re good.
By applying social-distancing guidelines and kitchen vigilance to takeout and delivery food, you can quell whatever fears you have. Here are some steps you can take to quiet your mind and order with confidence:
Choose contactless delivery and opt utensils. After your delivery carrier has walked away, leave the outermost delivery bag on the doorstep (to throw away) if applicable, and carry just the containers inside to put on your counter.
Wash your hands and transfer the food from the containers to your own dishware. Wash your hands well again and eat with your own utensils.
When you’re done, recycle or discard packaging, wash your dishes and wipe down your table and counters.
To practice social distancing while getting takeout or curbside pickup, pay by credit card online or by phone beforehand if that’s an option. If not, use contactless phone payments or have the right wad of cash ready.
Our science reporter Amina Khan recommended, “To maintain a six-foot distance from other people, let the server put the item down and take three big steps away before you go in and grab it. Avoid direct handoffs.” Do the same with payment if needed.
Once your food is home, follow the steps above.
Most importantly: Tip generously. The people feeding and serving you right now deserve whatever extra you can afford above the standard 20%.
Get our weekly Tasting Notes newsletter for reviews, news and more from critics Bill Addison and Patricia Escárcega.
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Genevieve Ko is the cooking editor for the Los Angeles Times. She is a cookbook author and has been a food writer, editor and recipe developer for national food media outlets. Ko graduated from Yale after a childhood in Monterey Park.
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Takeaway food definition and meaning
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Can you catch coronavirus from takeaway food and food packaging?
Should you still have takeaway food delivered to your house as the UK ramps up its response to the coronavirus pandemic, and how careful do you need to be about food packaging?
We asked Bill Keevil, Professor of Environmental Health at the University of Southampton – a microbiologist and food safety expert who has studied the behaviour of coronavirus strains on surfaces – for his advice.
Takeaway food remains in business, and many restaurants ordered to close in order to slow the spread of Covid-19 are converting to offer food deliveries and pre-prepared meals.
The government has introduced emergency measures allowing pubs and restaurants across the UK to operate as hot food takeaways, with communities secretary Robert Jenrick confirming it will be ‘relaxing’ planning measures for a limited period to allow them to bring food to people’s homes.
Food chain workers (including those involved in production, processing, distribution, sale and delivery of goods) have been listed as key workers, providing an essential service to the public.
But in receiving takeaways and deliveries, you're bringing yourself and your household into contact with food and packaging that may have been handled by various people, including the person who cooked it and the person delivering it. And where takeaway food and drink are available for collection only, social distancing can prove difficult to maintain, as customers gather to collect their meals.
So – how worried should we be about catching coronavirus from takeaway food and its packaging?
The latest scientific study published on the topic shows the virus can survive on cardboard for up to 24 hours (and on other surfaces including stainless steel and plastic for longer).
So, if you order a pizza in a cardboard box or a curry in a plastic container, are you putting yourself at any risk of contracting the virus, even if you don’t come into direct contact or within 2 metres of the person delivering it? And what about catching it from food itself, if it has been handled or breathed on by other humans?
Professor Bill Keevil, Professor of Environmental Health, assures The Telegraph that “the bottom line is, it’s very low risk”. Meanwhile, The Food Standards Agency website currently states that “it is very unly that you can catch coronavirus from food”.
But just how minimal that risk is really comes down to people in the food supply chain.
“If those preparing your food are following all the guidance for good food hygiene, that should be sufficient,” adds Keevil, who points me towards the government advice for food businesses and for cleaning in non-healthcare settings. The Food Standard Agency’s “Safer Food, Better Business” guidance also sets out food safety management and food hygiene regulations.
“Coronaviruses can survive a long time on surfaces, and in the environment. Obviously, people are now asking what the implications of this are for ordering food deliveries and packaging in the post,” says Keevil. Here’s everything you need to know, and some practical tips for lowering any risk of contamination present in food and packaging.
Heat kills coronavirus, refrigeration does not
“If food is heated and cooked, there’s absolutely no danger at all,” says Keevil, who confirms that this is widely accepted by scientists (“heating and UV irradiation can efficiently eliminate the viral infectivity,” concludes one key study on the topic, which examined the SARS coronavirus strain).
So, hot food itself doesn’t pose a problem, whether it’s been heated on any heat source (whether an oven, on the hob or in a microwave) – but it comes down to whether there is a risk of contaminated packaging, or from food which has been handled, but not then heated or reheated.
Refrigeration does not kill traces of the virus. “These viruses survive very well at room temperature, so they’re going to survive very well in the fridge. Whether or not they survive in a freezer is a good question, and I don’t know if anyone has looked into it.
“Some research has also shown that food preservatives such as vinegar and pickling are effective.”
Food hygiene is important
“Since the virus can survive for 24 hours on cardboard, and a takeaway is delivered within an hour, there would be a risk that someone handling a pizza box or takeaway packaging could potentially – and I say potentially – leave traces of the virus on there, if they were a carrier.
“Obviously, reputable food outlets are supposed to have well-documented, controlled hygiene measures. Ideally staff should be wearing gloves, washing hands, being sent home if they’re displaying symptoms – so in my view, at the moment, it’s a very low risk.
“It may be that those handling food for others should wear face masks as well as gloves as a reasonable precaution – as long as it is a good quality, appropriate, protective face mask.
“If you’re really concerned, my recommendation would be to dispose of the packaging safely and not come into unnecessary contact, and to wash your hands immediately.”
The same would go for any other packaging or post, whether cardboard or plastic.
The amount of virus present decreases over time on surfaces, whereas they multiply and spread in human hosts – so, infections are more ly from close contact with an infected person than surfaces. If you just had one viral particle on your finger, it’s unly that you’re going to be infected.
What about fresh produce, loose vegetables and fresh baked bread?
“If you are buying loose produce from a shop, tomatoes, the risk is again very low, and would only come from someone else who had handled them.
“If you were concerned at all, you could wash and cook the vegetables. That’s not to say washing would remove the virus, but it would give you some assurance.
“If a loaf of bread, a cake or a cooked ham has cooled down and is then handled and sliced or iced by hand, it’s only then that there would be any risk.
“But the general consensus is that there’s no danger of infection from eating food itself, because the stomach is acidic. The only risk would be if you transferred virus onto your hands from it, and then touched your eyes, nose or mouth. It’s a small but imaginable risk.”
So, when it comes to handling food and produce, hand washing is the best way to minimise any risk.
“The thing is, if people are housebound and particularly if they are old and frail, unless people are bringing them prepared takeaway meals and meals-on-wheels, they have few other options.
“If you were severely immunocompromised, you might want to be a bit careful, but otherwise where do you get your food from? It’s important to eat, and to drink lots of fluids.”
How long can coronavirus live on various surfaces?
According to the latest research from the New England Journal of Medicine, this is how long Covid-19 can survive on different surfaces.
Cardboard: up to 24 hours
Plastic: up to 2-3 days
Stainless steel: up to 2-3 days
Aerosols: up to 3 hours
Copper: up to four hours
Professor Bill Keevil’s research has previously shown that human coronavirus 229E (the strain which causes the common cold) can survive on plastics (PVC, PTFE), ceramics, stainless steel and glass for up to 4-5 days. “We’re all singing from the same hymn sheet,” he says.
To takeout or not to takeout food? Things to consider during the coronavirus pandemic
CLEVELAND, Ohio — Ordering takeout during the global coronavirus pandemic is one way to keep restaurants and delivery workers busy.
But it’s also an act that raises questions about sanitary procedures and ethics.
On the health side of the question, it’s a matter of common sense.
Dr. Alan J. Taege, a staff physician in the Department of Infectious Disease and the Director of HIV Care at the Cleveland Clinic said that when a delivery person comes to the door, it’s best to observe social distancing by asking the person to ring or knock and leave the package outside.
It’s called “no contact delivery,’’ and it’s an option offered in recent weeks by DoorDash, Postmates and other delivery services according to numerous news reports and company websites.
Dr. Taege advises that once you bring the package indoors, it’s important to place it on a surface away from where you’ll eat.
No one knows how long coronavirus can last on a surface, but Taege said he anticipated studies will show it could be a day or two. (A widely cited study released after publication states that coronavirus is stable for hours or days on surfaces, depending on the material).
He suggests opening the food package near a sink and then washing hands thoroughly with soap and water before placing the contents on plates.
Then, after throwing the packaging away, wash your hands a second time before eating.
“Wash your hands frequently,’’ Taege said. “Keep your hands away from your face.’’
Taege said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not offered best practices for handling takeout deliveries in the home. The CDC’s webpage on tips for meal kit or food delivery has not been updated since last year. The federal agency did not respond to two emails seeking a response.
The CDC and FDA currently have no evidence of food being associated with COVID-19 transmission, but tests are ongoing to understand how the virus spreads.
Taege said ordering takeout is safe, if guidelines and precautions are followed.
Employees at Eat Clean Bro load their vehicles for deliveries. The Freehold based business has boomed since COVID-19 hit New Jeresey..Monday, Mar. 16, 2020. Patti Sapone | NJ Advance Media
Ethics is another topic related to takeout delivery, given that every order requires a delivery worker to come in contact with others during the pandemic.
Shannon French, the Inamori Professor in Ethics, and director of the Inamori International Center for Ethics and Excellence at Case Western Reserve University, has practical suggestions.
First, she said that anyone receiving a delivery has an obligation to minimize risk to the person making the delivery by observing social distancing.
For example, if you leave a tip outside your door, wash your hands before putting it in an envelope and do not lick the envelope.
“Behave as though you have the virus,’’ she said. “How would you act then? You would wash before giving them anything they take away.’’
It’s up to the person later handling the cash to maintain cleanliness, she said.
French also suggests writing a short note of thanks to your delivery person.
“It’s just that one little moment of treating you [the deliverer] as a human being with dignity and respect,’’ she said. “You are not a robot bringing me this food.’’
Of course, delivery workers encounter more risk than someone who is able to stay home. But French said the delivery economy can be safe if everyone shows concern for each other through social distancing.
It’s also true, she said, that not ordering takeout puts hourly workers at economic risk.
“People shouldn’t stop ordering takeout,’’ she said.
But the experience can be better for everyone with what she called “gestures of simple humanity to make sure you don’t treat that delivery person as less than you.’’
In general, French said the coronavirus crisis is “just a really good nudge to all of us that now is the time to be especially kind. Kindness is the virtue we need right now.”
NOTE: This story has been updated with a link to a study saying coronavirus is stable for hours or days on surfaces, depending on the material. Additional coverage is here.
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