Go ahead and order that pizza, pick out that Chinese, or finally give in to that pit BBQ you’ve been craving for months. If you’ve been avoiding delivery food since the start of the pandemic, it’s time to stop.
Now I’m not going to lie to you and tell you it’s healthy. (OK, maybe just this once we can pretend.) But I can assure you it’s not DANGEROUS, either.
If you’re a regular Healthier Talk reader, you might recall I gave you the green light on deliveries months ago. The science on transmitting the virus this way was pretty clear. We didn’t need to be too concerned. And I even provided some easy, common-sense steps you could take to ease your anxiety and give you peace of mind when you did.
Well, now the FDA has issued a clarification to help restaurants and diners alike. I can sum it up in a single sentence… You WON’T get coronavirus from your food.
The science on this has been clear for a while now, but the message hasn’t exactly gotten out as many people are still concerned about ordering meals. And who can blame them? The better safe than sorry approach can save lives in some situations.
So let’s go through the menu and check out what’s safe and what’s not, one year into the pandemic.
The truth about COVID-19 and food
You remember what it was like a year ago. We were all washing our hands obsessively, scrubbing until they were raw and bleeding. And hand sanitizer flew off the shelves even faster than toilet paper.
Since then, we’ve learned that the hands aren’t a primary point of entry for the coronavirus (but don’t stop your “washing when you come home” routine just yet). And neither, for that matter, is food.
A new joint statement from the FDA and USDA confirms it, saying the “overwhelming international scientific consensus” is that you can’t eat your way to an infection. And the reason why is simple when you stop to think through what we know about the virus. It has to be inhaled, not digested to infect us.
Even in the unlikely event that there were somehow virus particles on your food – or the package – they’re VERY unlikely to be able to make you sick. And that’s because, unlike inhaling the bugs, you won’t be exposed to enough of them at once if you eat them.
The REAL risk is coming into contact with someone who has COVID-19 while GETTING your food. That means your best option is still a no-contact delivery, where they drop your food at your door and leave before you even come out.
The safety of OTHER ordering out options
If delivery is off the table, the next-best option is a curbside pickup. You pull up, call inside, and someone comes out and drops it into the trunk of your car. (Bring a mask just in case you have to speak to the person for any reason.)
If you absolutely have to go inside to pick up your food, wear a mask, and stick to social distancing rules. If your food’s not ready when you arrive, wait outside or in your car until it is.
And I hate to be a party pooper, but the LEAST safe option still is dining indoors in a restaurant. The trouble is people are sitting in one place for an extended period talking, eating, and obviously breathing. And that means they’re potentially exhaling the virus, allowing it to accumulate in the room, where it can put other diners at risk.
As the infection numbers continue to drop and more people are protected against the virus, there will come a time when we can all eat in a restaurant again. We’re not quite there yet, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. In the meantime, you can still support your favorite greasy spoon by eating their food in the safety of your own home.
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