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Ordering takeout or delivery? Follow these steps to avoid coronavirus germs

Coronavirus and COVID-19 have changed the way we interact with everything, and deliveries are no exception. Just a few short weeks ago, it wasn’t a big deal to bring your package inside right away. But now, we’re wiping everything down with disinfectants.

We’ve learned how tough the coronavirus really is in the wild. Not only can asymptomatic people easily transmit the virus, but its particles can survive on surfaces for up to 17 days. Tap or click here to find out more.

While you can let some packages sit outside until they’re safe to bring in, some items, like fresh produce, meal kits and meal deliveries, can’t be kept outdoors. How can you wash the germs away from your fresh deliveries?

Closed restaurants, open spread of germs

Many restaurants have shuttered their dining rooms in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. But just because there’s nowhere to sit doesn’t mean the kitchens are shut down.

To keep money flowing, dining establishments across America are switching to delivery and carry-out options only. While this might sound good in theory, it does present some unique issues for social distancing and the spread of disease.

For starters, many restaurants have dangerously small takeout areas that can facilitate the spread of germs. Delivery drivers from platforms like Uber Eats and Grubhub will likely be visiting the same open restaurants, and people-gathering can lead to transmission.

In the March 20 episode of The Kim Komando Show, driver and blogger Sergio Avedian reported seeing a crowd of delivery drivers form near the counter of one restaurant and nobody seemed to be observing the six-foot space minimum required for social distancing.

Related: Get your free 30-day trial for the Komando Community. Use discount code Kim when setting up your profile

And with more drivers on the job than ever, that means even more vectors for infection. There’s no way of knowing whether your delivery person is an asymptomatic carrier or not, so it’s up to us to sanitize our deliveries before bringing them inside our homes.

How to clean food delivery before bringing it indoors

There are genuine fears about whether COVID-19 can be transmitted through food, but the CDC says not to worry. That said, packaging is still a real vector for infection and health officials are urging people to clean and disinfect items as much as possible.

Since we’re not scientists or medical professionals, treat the following more as trusted advice than peer-reviewed data. If any of these germ-fighting steps make you uneasy, you might want to sit out ordering food.

These are some of the recommended steps you should take for any restaurant delivery you order:

  1. When ordering food, ask if the restaurant or service offers a “touch-free” delivery option. This means the driver will leave your food at your doorstep and leave without you needing to interact with them. Should you choose this option, make sure to tip in your delivery app or with the cashier over the phone.
  2. When you receive your food, wear gloves and wipe any packaging with disinfecting wipes. Make sure you’re using disinfectants that are FDA approved and known to kill the coronavirus. Tap or click here to see an updated list.
  3. Bring the food inside and avoid setting the packaging down on tables or countertops. Use your own kitchen utensils to transfer the food to a clean plate or bowl and and immediately throw the box away.
  4. Make sure to also throw away any napkins, plastic bags or plastic utensils included with your meal. Better yet, when you place your order, ask that they don’t include utensils or napkins.
  5. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap for 20 seconds in warm water, then sanitize the edges and bottom of the plate you’ll be eating off of with disinfecting wipes. Avoid touching the food with these wipes.
  6. Grab a clean fork, knife or spoon and dig in.

As a basic precaution, only eat your freshly delivered food with utensils, not your hands. Health officials also discourage putting your hands near your face, as it’s one of the most common ways to infect yourself.

Our advice? Make your own food, in your own controlled environment. Plus, cooking at high temperature is known to kill viruses and bacteria like salmonella.

Bonus: Nuke the flu!

If you want even more peace of mind, you can take the extra steps of putting your food in the refrigerator once its moved to a plate and then microwaving it hot again.

The CDC recognizes that microwave cooking can disinfect food, but notes that the item must be warm throughout. If you reheat your food, make sure to stir it and evenly distribute heat before enjoying.

These steps may seem obsessive-compulsive or over-the-top, but every hygiene effort you make goes toward the goal of flattening the curve of infection. We can’t be too sure when this pandemic will end, but we can make small choices in our daily lives to bring it to a close much sooner. Bon appétit!

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