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Food

Delivery, Doordash, or Do It Yourself

Limiting the spread of the virus has been a prime concern during the COVID-19 pandemic – especially when it comes to the food we eat. While the Centers for Disease Prevention (CDC) and Control and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have not found any evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted through food or food packaging to date, there are ways to limit your potential contact with the coronavirus whether you go grocery shopping or have food delivered to your home. 

DO-IT-YOURSELF

If you are going to the grocery store, the CDC recommends disinfecting your shopping cart (use disinfectant wipes if possible), wearing a mask (and do not touch your face), maintaining a social distance of six feet from others, and using hand sanitizer immediately after leaving the store. 

Family doctor Dr. Jeff VanWingen from Michigan, who posts popular safety tip videos on YouTube during the pandemic, suggests customers compose a thorough shopping list and buy two weeks of groceries at a time. These tactics will help cut down on food contact, minimize time in the store, and reduce the number of trips to the market.  

The CDC recommends that after returning home, you follow its “Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill” guidance. “Clean” involves starting with a 20-second hand wash and then cleaning countertops, utensils, cutting boards and other surfaces. While surfaces aren’t a common way to pick up the virus, it is important to keep them sanitized. Dr. Manisha Juthani, an infectious disease doctor and associate professor of medicine at Yale University, told USA TODAY that “If surfaces are cleaned or even if you touch a contaminated surface but then wash your hands properly, the low risk of transmission from a contaminated surface becomes an even lower risk.”

Fresh fruits and vegetables should be rinsed under running water, but the CDC urges against adding soap or any other cleaning products to the water since it can get absorbed by the produce and digested when eaten. 

“Separate” items like raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs to reduce cross-contamination. Although precise data isn’t available, experts believe the coronavirus can remain on plastics and stainless steel for up to three days and cardboard for up to one day. Again, clean pantry items with a disinfecting wipe.

Dr. VanWingen has several additional “separating” tips. First, empty out your grocery bags on a clean surface followed by washing your hands for 20-seconds. For packaged goods, like cereal, chips and even frozen pizza, he suggests keeping them in one of your own containers and discarding the outer wrappings. Experts have stated that the risk of COVID-19 transmission via packaging is quite small, however, these storing ideas can be useful. 

The CDC’s “Cook” and “Chill” steps work hand-in-hand. When cooking, try to utilize a food thermometer so you can check that your food’s internal temperature is high enough to kill harmful germs. “Chill” refers to refrigerating food properly (keep your refrigerator at 40 degrees or below) and thawing frozen food correctly (in the fridge, cold water or microwave; defrosting on counters increases bacteria levels). Remember too that perishable foods should be refrigerated within two hours (or one hour if it’s over 90 degrees outside). 

DELIVERY &  DOORDASH

When ordering a food delivery remember the “lowest human contact” strategy also works when paying. Paying at the time of order with a credit card or through services like PayPal, Apple Pay and Google Pay eliminate opportunities for exposure. If you need to use your card in person, try to maintain six feet of social distancing and sign the receipt with your own pen. If you must pay with cash, try leaving your payment, and/or tip, in a sealed plastic bag by your door where the delivery will be deposited (of course, your location has to be secure enough for this to work). However you choose to pay, don’t forget to tip your driver and, if you can, consider tipping generously – perhaps similar to what you’d tip your server in a restaurant – since they are helping to keep us all safe while sheltering at home.

In many places across America, you also can purchase and schedule delivery of alcohol online. The site Drizly.com, boasts a variety of wine, beer and spirits, and receives consistent shout-outs as the best overall site. Winc.com and wine.com rise to the top of many wine-only lists, while craftshack.com grabs accolades for its selection of local and small-batch brews. 

Most delivery services have expanded their drop-off options since the pandemic began. Among some of the national services DoorDash implemented contactless delivery, and Instacart added a “Leave at My Door Delivery.” Yelp instituted a contact-free delivery option and Postmates’ dropoff options include customers meeting their delivery driver at the door, at the curb, or choosing a noncontact option with deliveries left at the doorstep. 

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