A stay at home advisory has been issued for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, but Governer Baker has agreed to allow restaurants and other foodservice establishments to stay open for takeout and delivery. While this is wonderful for the foodservice industry, it makes some people nervous about bringing unwanted germs into their homes during the coronavirus pandemic.

Medical professionals and researchers from North Carolina State put together some tips and information for people on what to do with take-out and delivery food once it's in your home.

The CDC, FDA, and the USDA are not aware of any reports at this time that suggest COVID-19 can be transmitted by food or food packaging. Current evidence shows that the biggest risk of transmission of COVID-19 is being around individuals who are symptomatic, and to a lesser extent, people who are infected or not showing symptoms.  Food businesses should be following employee health policies and health department recommendations to keep these individuals home.

What are the risks of take-out or drive-thru food?

  • There is no current indication that take-out or drive-thru meals will increase illness
  • This option is good risk management, especially for high-risk groups because it helps maintain social distancing and reduces the number of touch points.

What are the risks of food delivered to the home?

  • Similar to take-out, food delivery helps maintain social distancing and reduces the number of touch points between the preparation and serving of food.
  • Many delivery programs have also instituted a no-touch, no interaction options, which further reduces the risk.

Can I get COVID-19 from touching food or packaging exposed to Coronavirus?

  • The risk of transfer of viruses is very low based on current research.
  • To further minimize risk, handling food packaging should be followed by handwashing and/or using hand sanitizer.

What happens in your body if you do ingest coronavirus through food?

  • Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread from person-to-person through respiratory droplets. It may be possible for a person to get COVID-19 by touching a contaminated surface or object and then touching their mouth, eyes or nose, but this is not thought to be the major way the virus is transmitted.
  • Currently, there is no evidence to support the transmission of the virus directly by eating food that might inadvertently contain the virus.
  • In commercial food production, processing and preparation, there are many best practices that are routinely followed per federal, state and local regulations. These are all designed to prevent foods from becoming contaminated with microbes from the environment, including viruses.
  • The best thing a consumer can do is continue using good food safety practices before preparing or eating food, like always washing your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds after using the restroom, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.