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Restaurant food delivery very safe during COVID-19, experts confirm

Conor Ward
Author Conor Ward
Food preparation is safe

“Currently there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19.”

US Food and Drug Administration

It is very safe to order takeout food from restaurants during the COVID-19 crisis, say leading experts and authorities.

With the lockdown now taking increasing hold and governments enforcing strict new measures to ensure compliance with social distancing, meeting the food demands of consumers is becoming a major challenge. People are largely confined to their homes all over the world, with major restrictions on movement. Shopping is severely limited and many food outlets are now closed.

Lockdown measures and the emphasis on restaurant food delivery

In the circumstances, the emphasis is now very much on takeout and food delivery options. These services continue to be offered and operated by many restaurants and cafes, even with the lockdown measures in effect.

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UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has specifically highlighted the need to use food delivery services where possible, as he announced strict new lockdown measures this week, to halt the spread of the virus. Supermarkets will remain open, but the public is being urged to only leave their houses for completely essential reasons.

“You should not be going shopping except for essentials like food and medicine – and you should do this as little as you can. And use food delivery services where you can,” said Mr. Johnson in his nation’s address.

That message has been echoed by the Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar, as his government also introduced strong new emergency measures to combat the spread of the virus. All non-essential retail outlets and services are now closed in Ireland until further notice.

And just like Mr. Johnson, Mr. Varadkar urged restaurants to move exclusively towards food delivery and takeaway services. “All cafes and restaurants should limit supply to takeaways and deliveries only,” he said.

These restrictions mirror the current reality in many other countries all over the world.

The good news - food delivery is safe

Many businesses and consumers may still have concerns about the safety of providing delivery services. Thankfully, it is still very safe to order and provide food delivery, according to a leading global nutrition and medical authority.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for ensuring the safety of America’s food supply, and is a leading global authority on nutrition safety matters.

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“Currently there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19,” says the FDA’s official website, addressing specific questions and concerns about the virus.

The risk of contracting the virus through food is extremely low, and there’s currently no evidence that it can spread through food, the FDA says. There have actually been no reported cases of coronavirus being transmitted through food, with another expert also providing reassurance about ordering food.

Donald Schaffner is Extension Specialist in Food Science and Distinguished Professor at Rutgers University, New Jersey, US. He has conducted extensive research on quantitative microbial risk assessment, predictive food microbiology, hand washing and cross-contamination. He is confident that there is little risk in ordering food delivery and takeout.

“We should be really worried about coronavirus, but we should not be worried about coronavirus in food,” said Dr. Schaffner. “If it is on food, it’ll go through the acid of your stomach and even if it gets through your stomach, this virus is designed to attack your lungs, not necessarily your gastrointestinal system,” he added.

Ordering cooked or uncooked food also makes no difference in the safety of the meal, he said. So food delivery remains a very safe and good option as it complies with social distancing measures, according to Dr. Schaffner.

However, human contact is still the major concern in combating the spread of the virus, so there are certain food delivery guidelines to follow to ensure it's done safely.


A full recording and presentation slides from the Flipdish webinar ‘Managing your restaurant through the coronavirus: a practical guide’, can be found here

Learn how Flipdish can help your restaurant or takeaway