Is it safe to order food from restaurants during the pandemic?
It’s pretty hard to escape that question these days — everyone is weighing in with their two cents on social media.
Rather than turn to social media and opinion to determine if there’s a chance of catching COVID-19, we decided to do some digging and find out once and for all if there’s a risk of getting the coronavirus from ordering food from a restaurant.
If you prefer to cook at home, we’re sharing vegan recipes using pantry staples from Las Vegas chefs, too.
Can the coronavirus disease spread through food?
What the experts are saying about the coronavirus being a foodborne illness
The US Food and Drug Administration has stated that there is currently “no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19.”
The virus is spread via touching a surface or object that has had the virus on it and then touching their face, but the FDA also points out that it is “not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.”
COVID-19 is largely transmitted from one individual to another through respiratory droplets.
The CDC states the disease can be transmitted when someone touches a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touches their face.
Safety measures to take when ordering food from a restaurant
What does this mean if you’re ordering food?
Studies indicate that it can live on surfaces anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Packaging materials can be contaminated if someone who prepared it was a carrier of the virus or if a person wearing gloves was not practicing proper hygienic practices.
“Just because someone is wearing gloves, does not mean the gloves are not contaminated,” explains Jimmy Vigilante, a registered environmental health specialist/registered sanitarian and owner of JVC Food Safety Specialists. “Unless the delivery service is absolutely following proper hygienic procedures and you are aware of that fact, then yes — trust it.”
The best way to prevent the transfer of the disease is to disinfect any surfaces that come in contact with packaging or throw away the packaging immediately. Also, wash your hands thoroughly before you touch your face or eat your food.
What Las Vegas restaurants are doing to help prevent the spread of coronavirus through pick-up and delivery
The Las Vegas restaurants still open during the coronavirus pandemic are taking measures to alleviate the fear of contracting the illness through ordering food.
Many have moved pick-up to the outside of the restaurant to allow people to maintain the suggested social distancing of six feet.
Others have switched entirely to contactless from payment to pick-up and are delivering food directly to cars.
For deliveries, some restaurants have implemented tamper-proof delivery packaging to avoid any additional contamination risk.
Restaurants are held to strict standards mandated by the Southern Nevada Health Department. Now, not only are restaurants following those standards, they are taking extra precautions.
At Shang Artisan Noodle, they are giving customers peace of mind by taking every employee’s temperature before their shift starts; requiring gloves and surgical masks be worn; sanitizing pick-up stations between each pick-up; are entirely contact-free with drivers and customers; offer hand sanitizer to customers; and instruct their employees to isolate when not at work.
Tariq Ali, owner of Marrakesh Restaurant shares that the team in the kitchen has been reduced and that “masks and gloves are always being worn and hands are being continually washed.”
“I believe restaurants have raised the bar in regards to sanitation and cross-contamination,” says Keith Norman, assistant executive chef and food safety manager at South Point Hotel Casino and Spa. “We have always had a standard of compliance but being more aware makes me very comfortable ordering out.”
Ann Alenik, owner of The Pasta Shop Ristorante & Art Gallery adds: “The food goes from the purveyor to the kitchen, and restaurant kitchens are super sanitized, and everyone uses gloves in the kitchen, and it’s double wrapped in the kitchen, and nobody else is touching anything. So there are fewer hands on your product. What if somebody coughed on the lettuce in the grocery store? Or picked up the apple before you? And then someone else checking you out, usually, too. With food from a restaurant, it’s simply fewer hands involved, and the prep is much more controlled.”
Here’s a great article from Eater about delivery options (including explaining the fees restaurants are hit with), the realities of gig workers and what companies are doing what to assist their staff during this time.
This article is for informational purposes only and not intended to give medical advice. For more information on what individual restaurants are doing to prevent the spread of COVID-19, please contact each directly.
Diana Edelman is the founder of Vegans, Baby and has emerged as the face of plant-based dining in Las Vegas and the leading plant-based restaurant consultant in the city. She spent a decade in the travel blogging world before switching gears to work in elephant rescue in Thailand. Diana travels the world to meet chefs and try vegan food, as well as speak at events focusing on travel, tourism, veganism and entrepreneurship. She’s a partner with the prestigious James Beard Foundation and curates their Vegas Vegan Dinners at the James Beard House. Diana is also a partner with Life is Beautiful, curating the all-vegan Farm Stand.