Restaurants takeout

Pastabilities owner Cindy Essa hands a takeout order to a customer. Food packaging is highly unlikely to transfer viruses, agencies say.

As restaurants continue to meet the need for people to get meals through curbside, takeout and delivery options, some people wonder if that food is safe.

Government agencies are saying yes.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19.

And according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, evidence suggests the biggest risk of transmission is by breathing respiratory droplets from someone symptomatic of the virus, and to a lesser extent, anyone infected but not showing symptoms.

The CDC said surface-to-surface transmission is thought to be low.

Even as communities and states prohibit restaurant dine-in and some other types of businesses to combat the spread of coronavirus, your favorite takeout-food option will likely remain on the menu.

That’s because the FDA and U.S. Department of Homeland Security consider food service and distribution as essential.

Though it’s up to states whether to prohibit carryout and delivery options, even the states with the most stringent rules have not done so.

Meanwhile, the FDA encourages restaurants to follow protocols set by local and state health departments, which include sanitation practices and vetting of employees for illness.

To allay the fears of people wanting takeout, the N.C. State Cooperative Extension Service issued a flyer about COVID-19 and takeout food.

It includes these answers to frequently asked questions:

  • There is no current indication that takeout or drive-through meals will increase illness and those options are a good option for high-risk management groups such as the elderly.
  • Similar to takeout, food delivery is also a safe option, particularly since drivers are instructed to limit interaction.
  • The risk of the transfer of viruses on food packaging is low.

If food contaminated with coronavirus is eaten, stomach acid will inactivate the virus, N.C. State Extension said, and there is no evidence the virus can infect the gastrointestinal tract. The extension says the only possible way to get sick from food contaminated with coronavirus is if it comes in contact with a specific type of respiratory cell after breathing it in.

The Extension Service’s FAQ flyer on COVID-19 and food, can be found at https://foodsafety.ces.ncsu.edu.

The Guilford County Department of Health and Human Services, which regulates restaurants, has strict sanitation guidelines in place for eateries, as does the N.C. Department of Agriculture, which oversees bakeries.

Meanwhile, the CDC and health care professionals continue to emphasize personal hygiene guidelines, including frequent hand-washing and social distancing.

Contact Carl Wilson at 336-373-7145, and follow on Twitter at Short_OrdersNR and on Facebook.

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