Is Takeaway/Delivery Food Definitely Free of Coronavirus and Safe to Consume without Heating?

We cook a lot these days but just wondering what do people think, for takeaway/delivery food…

What if a virus carrier sneezes/coughs onto the food before it's covered or sealed?

What if the utensils/cutlery/crockery used to prepare the food is infected by a virus carrier sneezing or coughing on them?

What if the delivery person who is a carrier touches the carry bag or coughs/sneezes on it?

What if the food (e.g. bread) is dropped on the floor or surfaces and picked up but now infected?

Edit:

Notes & Disclaimers:

  1. Not trying to destroy small businesses here. On the contrary, if restaurants can figure out how to overcome this somehow and get the message across, they could be rolling in dough with so many people stuck at home. You're welcome.

  2. Heat kills the virus according to most sources (see here)

  3. Here's a cute cartoon video about the virus to help you relax if you're anxious after reading and answering this poll.

Edit 2:

Amazing YouTube video find by SpaceNinja to address groceries and takeaway food safety concerns during this crisis.

Edit 3:

Blog pulling together various sources of info for everything food-related about Covid-19, credit to AEKaBeer.

Poll Options

  • 36
    Always heat food for n minutes before eating and wear gloves for handling bags/containers
  • 40
    Yes it's absolutely safe
  • 142
    No stay away from outside food just to be safe

Comments

  • +11 votes

    What if what if what if. Heat it up if you are worried, or make it yourself.

    • +6 votes

      This is a poll, and also to get some expert's opinion if they are out there.

      If you read the first line of this post after the title you'll find that your query has been answered.

      • +5 votes

        My point still stands. You shouldn't base your health or piece of mind on a random poll of random people on a bargain website.

        • +3 votes
          1. So your point…doesn't answer the question. Do you think it's safe, or not?
            It's common logic that if someone is worried enough they will heat up food or make it themselves so "heat it up if you're worried or make it yourself" is just re-stating the obvious?

          2. Also the first person voting has no idea what the rest think so they are not "basing their health solely on some poll" nor am I encouraging anyone to do so.

          3. Additionally if these "random people" provided helpful comments that generate new insights, that would help make decisions.

          • +5 votes

            @donamique: How would I know if it's safe? How would you know if it's safe? How does anyone know if it's safe? No one does.

            If you just work off statistics, you are likely to be safe. Whether someone is happy with that risk is completely up to them.

            •  

              @brendanm: Yes I work with Statistics, that's my forte and job. Yes I was once part of the healthcare system. Yes I work with contaminated product cases.

              What's the purpose of your comments? To stop others from asking questions and/or imply they're asking dumb questions?

              • +7 votes

                @donamique: Implying they are dumb questions. There is no way anyone else can know how your food was prepared, and if it was coughed on. If you are a worrier, heat it up or don't buy it. If not, just eat it. No one answering a poll any particular way is going to change the fact that you need to do one of these two things.

                •  

                  @brendanm: So we should be asking smarter questions or not asking questions?

                  • +1 vote

                    @donamique: Asking smarter questions that actually have answers, or ask your questions of health professionals if you ar that worried. Please don't believe that someone on the internet is a doctor just because they tell you they are.

                    Even if a doctor tells you that it's possible that the virus could live on food, if one of the few thousand people who have it, happens to be making you food, and then if that person happens to cough/sneeze near your food, and some of that happens to get on your food, and then the food gets to you in a quick enough time frame that the virus is still alive, you are still back to your original question. As a stats professional, I'm sure you can figure out roughly what those odds are, at a guess, probably under 0.01% for all those things to fall in line.

                    • +3 votes

                      @brendanm: These days, the nonstatisticians not believing the statisticians man.

                      A lot of people only want to believe what they want to believe, believe it or not.

                      So…what smarter question would you propose, for finding out the mass's attitude towards the safety of eating takeaway food, along with some potential comments from (claiming-on-internet) health experts and restaurant owners telling you what extra precautions they've made during this crisis to prevent contamination?

                      •  

                        @donamique: It doesn't matter what the "masses" think in regards to food safety. People will assess the risk themselves. What some deem an acceptable risk, others won't. Same reason we have some people wearing masks, some not.

                        People could tell you they've made all the precautions in the world, but it doesn't matter, as if someone thinks it's till an unacceptable risk, they won't buy the food, or will nuke it to within an inch of its life. Others realise that the odds are absolutely miniscule that they will get it from food prepared from a restaurant/take away, so they just eat it.

                        If everyone on here told you you should jump off a bridge, would you do it?

                        • +2 votes

                          @brendanm: They won't.

                          But I get what you're saying - that everyone has a different risk appetite.

                          I'm seeking their opinions after they've considered their own appetites. Not assuming that everyone has the same appetite, or that anyone else's appetite is the same as mine.

                          • +1 vote

                            @donamique: Won't what? Tell you to jump? They could, doesn't mean you should, or have to, do it. A whole bunch of random opinions on something no one knows the answer to are completely useless. Probably less than completely useless, as it's just more panic and fear inducing rubbish.

                            • +2 votes

                              @brendanm: So we should shut this forum down?

                              • -1 vote

                                @donamique: No, there are lots of questions that actually have answers. Your question is pointless, as regardless of the outcome of the poll and others opinions, people will still assess the amount of risk they are willing to take with their own health, and not base it on what some anonymous person on a bargain website has said.

                                • +1 vote

                                  @brendanm: These questions that actually have answers… we can't find them on google and have to ask for a poll of ozbargainers? What use then is the forum?

                                  • -2 votes

                                    @donamique: You seem smart, figure it out.

                                    • +1 vote

                                      @brendanm: I'm not as smart/informed/wise/well-read as the collective. Which explains this poll.

                                      •  

                                        @donamique: Incorrect. Every single person answering your pills could have a sub 80 IQ, do you actually think it's a good idea to base a decision that could affect your health on what stranger's say, or should you use your own common sense?

                                        • +3 votes

                                          @brendanm: I could have a 75 IQ?

                                          Also it gives an indication of what people think of takeaway/delivery restaurants currently.

                                          If a restaurant owner comes here and sees this, and is able to assure their customers that they are 100% safe and hygienic, they'd be making big bucks with everyone staying at home…just saying…

                                          • +6 votes

                                            @donamique: WHAT PEOPLE THINK IS NOT REALITY.

                                            No one can guarantee 100% that anything is safe, it's literally impossible. Also, anyone can say they are anything. I'm a restaurant owner, and I have coronavirus, and I spit in every piece of food I make. This is as valid a statement as any.

            • +1 vote

              @brendanm:

              How would I know if it's safe? How would you know if it's safe? How does anyone know if it's safe? No one does.

              By doing research.

              If you're unsure if it is safe then assume it is not.

              It's really that simple.

              • +1 vote

                @iDroid: That's basically my point.

                Opinions are not research though.

                • +2 votes

                  @brendanm: They're not a sole source of research, but seeking the ideas and wisdom of others is still of good value as part of all research.

                  Though it does take work to see the signal in the noise - some can, some can't. But let's not deny those who can from doing.

                  •  

                    @iDroid: It is a form of research, just not a good one.

                    •  

                      @brendanm: not even if the research yields this useful advice from a doctor battling coronavirus on the frontline?

                      https://www.ozbargain.com.au/node/526334?page=2#comment-8488...

                      Or do you only want to believe this guy is not a doctor but a hoax? That this is still a stupid question? Just because you have no such worries does not mean other people don't have such worries?

                      Those with elderly parents at home or the immunocompromised or family members working in healthcare?

                      Develop some empathy.

                      •  

                        @donamique: Where did I say I had no worries? I said, if you are worried, heat the food or make your own, it's the only way to be sure, regardless of the outcome of your poll.

                        • +1 vote

                          @brendanm: First you say this is a dumb question. Has the rest of the post not shown you how many people did not know heat kills the virus? I myself did not know that the virus is not "alive".

                          Next you say this dumb question should only be asked of medical doctors. Some doctors had once told me this is just another flu. Do you have any doctor friends? Are they 100% right? I've worked with many. In this case epidemiologists or food scientists or delivery drivers or restaurant owners might have more insight than your GP who is busy checking if someone has symptoms of coronavirus rather than thinking about how the masses should/are trying to prevent it.

                          Then you talk about statistics and say the odds are small, so you actually had an answer for yourself to this dumb question?

                          Lastly you say the masses are stupid and imposters and it is stupid to ask questions of the stupid. And you're worried for humanity. Why don't you do something about that then rather than spending time telling me my question is stupid to uphold your ego?

                          That will be of benefit to mankind.

                          Also why are you on the forum if you don't trust what anyone else says? Is it only you who is special enough to have the rare ability to judge what is real vs. unreal and the rest of the world mostly idiots, in your opinion?

        •  

          Precisely, you should research and get as many opinions and as much information as practical.

          Just as OP is doing.

      • +1 vote

        You sometimes have to remember that reading comprehension is hard for some people.

      •  

        Well if you think that much then it equal dangerous going out shopping for grocery and cook your self because this virus lives 3 days on hard surface and if you going Woolworths and coles where thousands comes every day, do you think all people will be healthy there? I believe people need is accept this and face it.
        yes some people love to be scared till get virus some people careless and get virus. well do you want enjoy meal made by cook or chef or you want cook yourself by buying groceries in both scenario can get virus.in case you order online grocery then someone who will deliver same risk who deliver you cook food.

      •  

        "expert opinions" - goes to ozbargain…
        righto

        • -1 vote

          You don't think there are experts in their field on ozbargain?

          They could be leaving valuable comments below. Doctors, nurses, epidemiologists?

          •  

            @donamique: you're thinking that all self-proclaimed experts on ozbargain would be telling the truth.

            They could also be leaving false information/comments below.

            •  

              @Thazza: They'd have to back up their claims to be deemed credible? With credible sources of course such as major science journals, university research centres or links to government and international health bodies.

              • +1 vote

                @donamique: Comment right below mine:

                https://www.ozbargain.com.au/comment/8483165/redir

                I don't see them backing up their claim - yet you feel like you learned something new.

                In any case -spreading of misinformation is a dangerous thing

                •  

                  @Thazza: No I googled that. Try it.

                  Then I typed 'I learned something new'.

                  Besides this is a widely known scientific fact? I'm just not knowledgeable enough but now I know.

                  I agree that spreading misinformation is a dangerous thing. If I was skeptical (which I am) about something, I tend to try to verify claims even if they do not back it up.

                  Do you not agree that viruses are not living organisms?

                  •  

                    @donamique: Virus are not generally considered a living thing as they need an actual living host to replicate and can not do so without a living host.

                    But why would it matter? They do what they do despite how we categorise them, these semantics are someone irrelevant in this discussion.

                    •  

                      @iDroid: yea I'm just wondering now why a non living thing still charts its evolutionary course in order to survive and multiply…

                      anyway I think you're right it's impossible to please everyone and some people are more fearful of the truth than others and project that as anger onto the person asking the question which shows them an answer?

  •  

    Interesting thread.

  • +23 votes

    All of these questions could apply to the ingredients purchased to cook at home. What if the farmer/fruit picker/vegetable packer/butcher/wholesale worker/delivery driver/store packer/person on the register/customer before/next to me……………

    • +1 vote

      The cooking process kills the virus. It's vulnerable to heat, above x/45/50 degrees according to studies.

      Oh yea I get what you're saying…touching the raw materials…hmmm

      • +3 votes

        Coronavirus?
        Salads and fruit will be a problem though.

        •  

          For raw materials I guess we could handle them with gloves or wash hands with soap after handling at home or shopping?

          For salads and fruits…wash with a mild detergent soap solution? Lol running out of ideas here and just thinking from an extremely OCD perspective.

          •  

            @donamique: So what if the gloves are also contaminated?

            What if the person just wear the gloves for the whole day and never change it? How is it different to handling it without raw gloves?

            An article like the one below says why gloves can give false sense of security. I actually think sometimes it can make things worse if not used properly.

            https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/Coronavir...

            • +1 vote

              @oz-eh: Agreed. When gloves rules are enforced in some countries, some of the food vendors just wear gloves while handling food then handle notes and coins with the same gloved hand, defeating the purpose altogether…

              •  

                @donamique: exactly.. I see this all the time.. I see it more useful for protecting the person wearing it than protecting others…

                •  

                  @oz-eh: Also I want to mention that I myself would probably feel more comfortable if the person at the shop handling food is wearing a mask.

                  I travelled to overseas end of Jan till start of Feb and that's what they are doing there. (that was in Hong Kong)

                  I do understand that masks are very hard to find etc. but I am just posting about my thoughts from what I have experienced.

        • +6 votes

          chips, chocolate, cereal, bread, any packaging

          who knows if the packer had the virus, the guy before you who was about to pick up the item
          the guy who paid before u did when u scanned

          game over man game over!

        • -2 votes

          wait 6hrs before eating it then, fomite will die.

          When ever i get back from work in ED, i don't touch my phone after setting it on wireless charger until the morning (at least 8 hrs)

          • -1 vote

            @paraneoplastic: Coronavirus can live on your phone for 3 days

            •  

              @OzzyOzbourne: Source?

              3 days seems absurd - impossible for a virus to survive that long outside of the host

              •  

                @paraneoplastic: https://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2020-03-20/how-long-does...

                They do say however that of the initial population, only a small amount was detectable.

                • +1 vote

                  @naturaldecay: I stand partially corrected, however:

                  From the NEJM results:

                  " Both viruses had an exponential decay in virus titer across all experimental conditions, as indicated by a linear decrease in the log10TCID50 per liter of air or milliliter of medium over time (Figure 1B). The half-lives of SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV-1 were similar in aerosols, with median estimates of approximately 1.1 to 1.2 hours and 95% credible intervals of 0.64 to 2.64 for SARS-CoV-2 and 0.78 to 2.43 for SARS-CoV-1 (Figure 1C, and Table S1 in the Supplementary Appendix). The half-lives of the two viruses were also similar on copper. On cardboard, the half-life of SARS-CoV-2 was longer than that of SARS-CoV-1. The longest viability of both viruses was on stainless steel and plastic; the estimated median half-life of SARS-CoV-2 was approximately 5.6 hours on stainless steel and 6.8 hours on plastic (Figure 1C). Estimated differences in the half-lives of the two viruses were small except for those on cardboard (Figure 1C). Individual replicate data were noticeably “noisier” (i.e., there was more variation in the experiment, resulting in a larger standard error) for cardboard than for other surfaces (Fig. S1 through S5), so we advise caution in interpreting this result "

                  The appendix shows that the 97.5% of the virus decayed in 8hrs on plastics (which was the longest)

                  My logic stands. They were testing the stability of the virus not it's ability to infect. Even if there was sparse detection at 72hrs on stainless steel kept undisturbed in negative pressure at perfect emperature conditions and humidity (stable) - the study does not state if this viral load was enough to infect (not the purpose of the study) -it does highlight the importance of hand washing and cleaning contaminated surfaces though.

      • +2 votes

        So do you cook every piece of fruit? How about every biscuit or muesli bar, piece of died fruit, nut, slice of bread, scoop of ice cream/yoghurt? All of these items have the potential for contamination post cooking/preparation.

        •  

          Factories have standards they have to adhere to in terms of food hygiene. They are also sterilised. Should be safe.

          It's the packing and handling after they leave factories. Not the contents. Anyway the contents are sealed and the virus dies in 1-3 days.

          • +3 votes

            @donamique: Given carriers can be asymptomatic, there could be carriers in the packaging stage of production, and no-one may be the wiser. This could certainly affect the contents.

            •  

              @Rolts: The virus dies when left alone for 1-3 days, according to most recent information? Wouldn't it take longer than that for the packaged food to reach you?

              • +1 vote

                @donamique: Not if someone with no symptoms contaminated it in the shop.

                •  

                  @jjjaar: How about washing your hands when you get home and then washing the items?

                  • +12 votes

                    @donamique: So you’re going to wipe down every item you buy and all the bags you’ve used to get them inside? Do you wipe them down before you enter? Or go inside and put them all on a bench then do so? What about the bench? Disinfecting cardboard boxes without getting them soggy will be fun. Let’s not forget to wash all your clothes when you get home too. Then we have to mop the floors just in case.

                    But wait, do you wash your hands before each task too, because if you wash your hands then pick up an item to disinfect it, your left hand may have touched the virus while your right hand is wiping it off. So really, you then have to wash your hands again in between all the stages above.

                    Trust me, I’ve thought about it. It’s never ending. You can’t 100% guarantee you won’t bring bacteria home.

                    But the risks of a takeaway food place are probably lower than at a supermarket because the supermarket is full of a lot of people; an ignorant public who see themselves as immune because they are young, still picking up ten apples before selecting the right one and probably just touched their face to move their glasses or get that hair out of their mouth. Whereas the cafe/restaurant will have very few staff who if they don’t follow proper hygiene, will lose their job and also seem to understand the risk to their own health a lot more.

                    •  

                      @jjjaar: Very good points.

                      You can leave the items alone for 1-3 days before using/unpacking them? A friend who's a doctor is doing just that because he sees cancer patients.

                      If you don't want to leave the items alone, you can also do all the things you mentioned then disinfect your hands?

                      Would the employees of restaurants/cafes also mostly be young, thinking they are immune?

                      Just playing devil's advocate here. But you really raised some very good points.

                      •  

                        @donamique: You can certainly leave some items alone, but not fresh produce or fridge/freezer items. And if they go in your fridge and touch other things…

                        You can definitely try. But it would be very time consuming. Then again, there’s a lot more time at home haha.

                        Based on people I have been talking to, I’ve noticed a lot of employees still expected to work in public are taking this a bit more seriously than those who can work from home. IBut I could be wrong. I certainly haven’t polled everyone.

                        •  

                          @jjjaar: What if you just pack them into the fridge/freezer normally after buying them, then when you need the items, take them out and process them and you wash your hands and also cook the food, then just disinfect the fridge handle?

  • +15 votes

    I think over thinking this is the way to high anxiety. The people around you are far more likely to infect you.

    •  

      We're in lockdown, there's no one around lol.

      And just for information sake really. I study contaminated products (woolies strawberries with needles, nuts mixed into processes causing allergies etc.)

      • +3 votes

        So where do you get your food, medications, cleaning supplies? Do you have kids at school, do you go outdoors for exercise? Or do you live in a sterile bubble, no open windows, sealed air system etc?

        •  

          That's a lot of questions…

          I don't think people should follow what I'm doing, everyone has their own way of doing things, just trying to see what other people think?

          There is no right or wrong.

          But to answer your questions:

          Food and cleaning supplies from grocer/woolies/coles etc. Some of them were purchased recently some were purchased from I don't remember when. Wash hands with soap when we get home.
          No kids.
          Indoor exercise mostly with Switch Ring Fit. Take a walk around the block/vicinity at night.

          ***Also, it's important to air your room according to official advice from international health bodies and the Australian government for the prevention of covid-19.

  • +1 vote

    What if the chef sneezes or coughs on the food? Hmmmm

  • +16 votes

    Personally I believe short of being self-sustained locked-down at home, it’s impossible to fully eliminate the risk, so it’s more about minimising it instead.
    Even if you cook for yourself from bought ingredients you’re still at risk: someone could have touched that apple you bought, or the trolley you used.
    Even if you reheat takeouts and assuming that heat does kill the virus (I’m not an expert), others still have touched the container/bag, and the delivery driver may have touched your gate/door.
    Minimise unnecessary external contacts and you minimise the risk.
    I still go to the shop but try to wash/disinfect my hands as much as I can. I also wash my shoppings (ones that can be washed anyway) and avoid takeouts. I understand it’s horrible for the economy but the health and safety of my family and myself come first.

  • +16 votes

    The likelihood of the chef or delivery driver having Coronavirus is very small.

    The likelihood of you catching it from them is very small.

    Even if you do catch it from them, the likelihood of you getting seriously sick is small.

    Even if you get sick, the likelihood of you dying form it is very small.

    Just enjoy your dinner and support a local business, because the likelihood of them being unemployed soon is very high.

    • +3 votes

      Very very good points.

      But the likelihood of you spreading it to someone else if you're in contact with others or touch a surface and they touch it is very high.

      And the likelihood of them spreading it to

      a) healthcare workers
      b) elderly
      c) others with underlying complications

      can be high.

      What should we do?

      Alternatively to support small businesses we could just donate money to them?

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