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How To Order Takeout Food Safely During COVID-19

Emma Loewe
mbg Senior Sustainability Editor By Emma Loewe
mbg Senior Sustainability Editor
Emma Loewe is the Senior Sustainability Editor at mindbodygreen and the author of "The Spirit Almanac: A Modern Guide To Ancient Self Care."
Modern Mexican food takeout and delivery

Though restaurants across the country have been forced to shut their dining rooms due to the coronavirus, many kitchens are still open. Serving food to-go is one way the restaurant industry is trying to stay afloat during this time, and ordering takeout can be an appealing option for people who are at home but sick of their own cooking or out and about all day as an essential worker. Thankfully, at this point in time, it's safe to keep ordering takeout—but you should take a few extra precautions before you dig into that pizza or burrito.

How to pick up your order safely.

If you're opting to pick your order up at a restaurant, keep the rules of social distancing top of mind: Wear a mask (here's how to craft your own mask if you don't have one), don't stand within 6 feet of others if you can help it (though you'll probably have to get a little closer to the person handing you your food), avoid touching your face, and wash your hands as soon as you get home. If the restaurant offers a curbside pickup option, go that route so you can just grab the food from the comfort of your car.

If you're getting food delivered to your home or apartment and want to be extra cautious, ask the delivery person ahead of time to just leave the food at the door and ring your bell in order to minimize human contact for both parties.

Either way, don't forget to thank your restaurant workers and tip generously if you're in a position to. A little kindness can go a long way right now.


How to unpack your food safely.

As of now, there is no evidence that the coronavirus can spread through food. (It's a respiratory disease, not a food-borne one.) However, the virus may be able to stick around hard surfaces like cardboard and plastic for up to nine days, which means your food's packaging could be a potential risk. While it's unlikely, there's always a chance someone in the restaurant sneezed into their hand then grabbed your takeout box.

In a time when "better safe than sorry" might as well be the national motto, it's not a bad idea to treat hard food packaging like it is infected, just to be safe, especially if you live in a high-risk area. Linda Lybert, the executive director of the Healthcare Surfaces Institute, a nonprofit that works to mitigate the spread of infectious disease in hospitals, recommends taking the food out of the container right away and transferring it to your own dishes. Then, you can recycle the container immediately to get it out of your living space. If you have a stash of latex gloves at home, this might be a time to use them (but read up on the best way to remove them first). Gloves or not, thoroughly wash and dry your hands after handling the container and avoid touching your face until you do.

Ideally you'd be able to transfer food to your own plates without setting the container down on a countertop. You could also unpack it outside your home, like some experts recommend doing for groceries. If you do need to set your container down on a counter, clean and disinfect the area afterward.

The bottom line? Ordering takeout food is an easy way to support the economy while fulfilling your sushi craving. But, like so many things these days, it should be done with a little extra caution.

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