COVID-19, Food Packaging, and Food Delivery

The Basics:

People can become infected with coronaviruses by breathing in infected droplets (like from a cough) or by transferring the virus from dirty hands and touching their face, especially the inside of the nose or eyes. So, practicing good personal hygiene in a food operation, like refraining from touching the eyes, nose, mouth, or face and washing hands regularly will help to reduce the chance that the virus is transmitted.

Can COVID-19 be transmitted through food? COVID-19 is not a foodborne illness. There is no current evidence that coronaviruses, like COVID-19, can be transmitted through (passed through) food and no reported cases of COVID-19 has been linked to the contamination of food. Additionally, while coronaviruses are stable at low and freezing temperatures for a period of time, the reduction in the transmission can be more appropriately controlled through good personal hygiene.

The main risk of transmission is from close contact with infected people. The best approach is to maintain good hygiene at all times and to wash hands regularly with soap and water as well as avoiding touching the face to reduce the risk.

Food Packaging: It is not certain how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces, but it seems to behave like other coronaviruses. Studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days depending on the type of surface, temperature and humidity of the environment.However, the numbers of virus will reduce considerably over time as it dies off. Food packaging surfaces can be cleaned by the consumer with a disinfectant (following the manufacturers direction), but care should also be taken to ensure that the food product itself does not become contaminated with the chemical being used.

Delivery Drivers and Delivery Vehicles:

In addition to the established food safety practices for time/temp control, preventing cross contamination, cleaning hands, no sick workers, and storage of food, etc, increasing the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch surfaces such as counter tops and touch pads and within the vehicle, by wiping down surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe will help to control the transmission of the virus; make sure to read the label and follow manufacturer’s instructions on use.

Additional suggestions:

  • Establish designated pick-up zones for customers to help maintain social distancing.

  • Practice social distancing when delivering food, e.g., offering “no touch” deliveries and sending text alerts or calling when deliveries have arrived.

  • Conduct an evaluation of your facility to identify and apply operational changes in order to maintain social distancing if offering take-out/carry-out option by maintaining a 6-foot distance from others, when possible.

  • Ensure that any wrapping and packaging used for food transport is done so that contamination of the food is prevented.

  • Routinely clean and sanitize coolers and insulated bags used to deliver foods.

More COVID-19 resources and free training for the food service industry can be found here

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