Is It Safe to Order Food Delivery? We Asked a Doctor for the Facts

is it safe to order food delivery

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, we’ve been told by everyone from our local leaders to our moms to stay inside. We only leave the house for a quick walk or grocery store run, but the nonstop cooking is hard to keep up with. Plus, we want to support our local restaurants desperate for business right now. We can’t dine in, but is it safe to order food delivery? 

We combed through official notices, asked a doctor for his expert opinion and came up with this quick guide to staying safe at home while ordering in—because yes, this is still allowed.

1. Practice safe social distancing with contactless delivery

Staying at least six feet away from other people, wearing (sometimes makeshift) masks in public, donning gloves—we do it all in the name of social distancing! But when someone making a delivery is coming to your house, you have the advantage of staying inside while they stay outside. This barrier will protect both of you and ensure that you never have to come face-to-face—aka, contactless delivery.

“A lot of restaurants are offering contactless delivery, meaning you never have to come in contact with the person delivering your food,” says neonatologist Snehal Doshi, M.D., CEO of Millennium Neonatology. “Instead, people are having their order dropped off at their door, and the delivery person will ring the bell and leave,” or you can have them or the restaurant give you a call or send you a notification that the food is waiting outside—the possibilities for staying away from each other are endless.

2. Pay ahead of time

If you live in a city that has a food delivery service like Postmates or Seamless, the idea of paying with your card on file through an app is no revelatory concept. Some restaurants and some towns don’t have this option, but that doesn’t mean you need to break the rules of social distancing to pay for your meal. Dr. Doshi tells us it’s totally normal and acceptable to call a restaurant ahead of time to give them your credit card info and have them charge you when your order is delivered. “It’s safer for everyone this way,” he says. “That way, no one has to handle cash or touch your credit cards.”

3. Throw out all the packaging 

Currently, the CDC says that “there is no evidence of food, food containers or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19, [but] like other viruses, it is possible that the virus that causes COVID-19 can survive on surfaces or objects.” So, to be safe, it’s important to handle all that paper and plastic packaging correctly.

Dr. Doshi says to take the carton holding your food out of all of the packaging it came in and set it aside. Then take the bag or box and any plastic silverware or napkins included in the bag and throw it all out—preferably outside of your house—and then wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water.

4. Reheat the Food 

Transfer the food to your own oven- or microwave-safe tray to reheat. “Reheat it at a high temperature in the microwave for two or three minutes or in the oven at 350°F for ten minutes or so before eating to kill any potential traces of the virus that might have come in contact with your food,” Doshi advises. Oh, and while you’re waiting for your food to reheat, wash your hands. 

5. Tip well

This step is more a suggestion than a rule, but hear us out. Times are hard for everyone right now, especially the (likely underpaid) delivery people exposing themselves to the virus every day while at work. If you’re able to, it’s a really kind gesture that also makes a difference. Add a nice tip—20 percent or more if you can afford it—to your delivery by asking the restaurant to tack it onto the total bill for your meal while you’re giving them your card info over the phone. We all have to look out for each other right now!

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From 2019-2020 Ariel Scotti held the role of Editor at PureWow covering trends, wellness and more.