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How to properly handle food deliveries during the coronavirus pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced millions of Americans to drastically change their lifestyles. Where shopping and eating out used to be the norm, people are now switching to meal kits and takeout deliveries in an effort to stay healthy.

But just because you didn’t interact with anyone doesn’t mean your items are 100% safe. Germs can still live on packages for several days, and that includes your Amazon orders. Tap or click to learn how to properly disinfect your packages.

It’s one thing to clean and disinfect an ordinary package, but what about perishable goods or those fresh food kits you order? Believe it or not, there are still ways to keep your food clean and enjoy it without stressing about germs.

Clean hands, clean packaging, clean food?

Food delivery is on the rise thanks to the spread of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. With social distancing and “flattening the curve” being nationwide priorities, people are dining in restaurants and gathering in groups less than ever.

But people still need to eat, which is why stocks for delivery companies like HelloFresh and Blue Apron are skyrocketing as the rest of the market falters.

It’s a sign of the times and a good reason to look at some of the delivery options you can choose from. After all, ordering food kit deliveries can help you avoid unnecessary contact with others who may be asymptomatic.

Here are some of the most popular delivery options you can choose from right now, and what you’ll get when you decide to call in.

  • HelloFresh: Delivers pre-measured ingredients based on meal plans of your choosing. You can pick from a wide variety of options like burgers and Asian rice bowls, but some cooking skill is required to make the most of it.
  • Omaha Steaks: This subscription puts meat back on the menu for your home and includes steak, BBQ meats, seafood, desserts and sides in pre-packaged meal kits. The prices are higher, with some packages going for more than $100.
  • Blue Apron: Ships you ingredients and recipes as part of a monthly subscription, so some cooking skills are required to fully enjoy the food. But the options span a range of cultures and cuisines, and wine is included.
  • Home Chef: Offers flexible plans that can fit a wide range of diets, including vegan and vegetarian options.
  • Amazon Meal Kits: Amazon’s meal kits aren’t available in every region. But if you’re able to order, the prices are highly competitive and the high-quality food comes from none other than Whole Foods.

As good as these options are, it’s worth noting every kit is still being prepared and delivered by human hands. And since asymptomatic transmission is a major factor in the spread of COVID-19, even fresh deliveries should be properly cleaned and disinfected.

How do I clean and disinfect my food kit deliveries?

A common question people have is whether COVID-19 can be transmitted via food. According to the CDC, there is no evidence food can infect you, but health officials still urge people to carefully clean packaging and to wash fruits and vegetables as a general precaution.

This is because we now understand the virus can live on surfaces for several days — up to 17 in some cases. Though frozen or refrigerated packaging does seem to harm the virus, you still want to sanitize everything.

You can’t be too careful when health is on the line, so here’s what you should do for any food delivery kits you receive to make sure they’re as clean as possible:

  1. When you receive your package, wear gloves and wipe the box down with disinfecting wipes. Make sure you’re using chemicals that are known to kill the coronavirus. Tap or click here to see the list.
  2. Open the package and throw the box away. If it’s a shelf-stable item, wipe it down with a disinfectant and put it in a safe area separate from the rest of your food. Let it sit for 1-3 days.
  3. If your item is perishable, wipe down the container with disinfectant and put it in the refrigerator immediately. Try to isolate it from other items in your fridge. Wait 1-3 days, then wipe it down again before opening. Any fresh ingredients like fruits or vegetables should be carefully washed with soap immediately before storage.
  4. If the item is a fresh meal or something you need to eat right away, sanitize the container it came in and use clean kitchen utensils to transfer the food to a clean plate or bowl. Discard the containers.

As a precaution, you should handle any freshly delivered food with utensils instead of your hands. And health officials discourage putting your hands near your face, as it’s one of the most common vectors for infection.

Touch-free goes mainstream

In the face of a pandemic like the one we’re experiencing, it’s likely more businesses will adapt and evolve to answer consumer needs.

One company is taking the idea even further by introducing germ-free “airlocks” for food pickup. This ensures no human contact occurs during mealtime.

Creator, a San Francisco-based restaurant, developed the pressurized “transfer chamber” for curbside pickup orders. To help other businesses, it’s made the design open source, so anyone with the know-how can build and make use of these germ-fighting devices. The plans can be downloaded for free from the company’s website.

All of these efforts go a long way toward flattening the curve and keeping our hospitals from overflowing. Before too long, we might even see delivery as the norm among some of the biggest retailers in the nation. Tap or click here to see Walmart’s plans for grocery delivery.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have regarding a medical condition, advice, or health objectives.

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