COVID-19 and Food Safety FAQ: Is Coronavirus a Concern with Takeout?1

Natalie Seymour, Mary Yavelak, Candice Christian, and Ben Chapman 2

This flyer is best viewed as a PDF. It contains answers to frequently asked questions regarding COVID-19 and takeout food.

CDC, FDA and 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 the biggest risk of transmission of COVID-19 is being around individuals who are symptomatic. Food businesses should be following employee health policies and health department recommendations to keep these individuals home.

WHAT ARE THE RISKS OF FOOD FROM TAKEOUT OR DRIVE-THRU FOOD?

  • There is no current indication that takeout or drive-thru meals will increase illness.

  • This option is a good risk management choice, especially for high risk and elderly groups because it reduces the number of touch points.

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 ARE THE RISKS OF FOOD DELIVERED TO HOME?

  • Similar to takeout, food delivery reduces the amount of touch points associated with dining in a restaurant.

  • Many delivery programs have instituted no touch/no interaction options, which greatly minimize risk.

WHAT HAPPENS IN YOUR BODY IF YOU DO INGEST CORONAVIRUS THROUGH FOOD?

  • If you consume food that is contaminated with coronavirus, your stomach acid will inactivate the virus since it is very acidic (pH 2.0).

    • Even if your stomach acid did not inactivate the virus, COVID-19 is not well-suited to infect the body via the intestines.

  • The only possible way to get sick is if, during eating, the virus comes in contact with a specific type respiratory cells.

    • This scenario is way more unlikely than the modes of transmission that are typically being discussed regarding COVID-19.

For more info, visit: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov

(800) 232-4636

Footnotes

1. This document is FSHN20-21, one of a series of the Food Science and Human Nutrition Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date March 2020. Visit the EDIS website at https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu for the currently supported version of this publication. © NCSU. Used with permission.
2. Natalie Seymour, MS, Extension associate; Mary Yavelak, MS, Extension associate; Candice Christian, MPH, Extension associate; and Ben Chapman, professor, food safety specialist; NC State University Extension. UF Contact: Michelle Danyluk, professor, Food Science and Human Nutrition Department, UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center, Lake Alfred, FL | mddanyluk@ufl.edu | (863) 956-8654.

Publication #FSHN20-21

Date: 2020-05-19

Related Topics

Fact Sheet

Contacts

  • Michelle Danyluk