How to safely order takeout as COVID-19 spread

As more diners turn to delivery, tips to keep your family (& food) safe

MADISON, Wis. — Right now, Restaurants across the state are limited to takeout- or delivery-only in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19. But many people are still questioning if it’s safe to order their favorite food and support local restaurants.

The USDA, CDC and FDA all agree there is no evidence that the coronavirus is transmitted through food or food packaging. However, virologists say you should be concerned about how you are getting your food. Here’s what they suggest you do:

1. Call the restaurant ahead of time and see if you can pay over the phone or online to avoid using cash or having someone else touch your credit card. If you’re driving to the restaurant to pick up food yourself, ask if they offer curbside pickup. Most places in Madison do: so many in fact, that the city has designated special lanes in front of downtown restaurants.

2. Ask about what the restaurant is doing to protect its delivery person if you’re getting food delivered. The less interaction, the better. In Madison, you can call the restaurant or its delivery service if it uses EatStreet or GrubHub and get in contact with your delivery driver. That way, you can talk to them and figure out the best way to drop off the food, which might mean leaving it on your porch or in your apartment building’s lobby and texting you that it’s there.

3. Consider local businesses when placing your order. If one of the main reasons you’re choosing to order out is to help a local business, make sure to call them, and ask what food is easiest for them to make right now. Some restaurants are having trouble getting certain ingredients and are working with a limited staff.

4. Order in bulk when possible. This will limit your interactions with other people. By bulking up and freezing leftover food, you’re giving a boost to local restaurants, while limiting some of the transactions required around getting you the food. The CDC, USDA, and FDA all agree the virus isn’t transmitted through food, but they say because it IS transmitted from person to person, you can’t be too careful when it comes to how you’re getting the food you order to you.

The good thing about COVID-19 is that it’s very fragile. It’s destroyed by heat, it’s destroyed by even basic cleaners and soaps and detergents.
So if you’re worried your food is somehow carrying the virus, throw it in the oven or microwave for a few minutes. If you’re refrigerating or freezing your food, be sure to wipe down or switch out the containers that it’s in- researchers believe the virus can live longer in the cold, for up to two years in your freezer.