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While New Jersey has required restaurants to close in-house dining amid the Coronavirus outbreak, many local eateries remain open for delivery and take-out. But is eating take out from these institutions still safe in the midst of a pandemic? Infectious disease experts from Cooper University Health Care say there’s no need to worry.

“We know that the risk of contracting coronavirus through food is incredibly low,” said Henry S. Fraimow, MD, infectious disease specialist at Cooper University Health Care. “According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19.”

While the risk of contracting anything from the packaging is low, it is still a good idea to wash your hands after opening food containers the same way you should after unpacking groceries from the supermarket or items from a pharmacy.

“While the virus that causes COVID-19 – like many viruses including the common cold and seasonal influenza – can survive on surfaces or objects for a period, most experts consider person-to-person contact as the main form of transmission,” said Dr. Fraimow. “People shouldn’t be overly worried about this. Even so, as a measure of precaution, it is important to wash your hands, utensils, and surfaces often just as a matter of routine.”

As for food service workers, Dr. Fraimow has three points to remember:

Always follow safe food handling procedures, including cleaning food preparation surfaces frequently. This is good practice to avoid cross food contamination, not just during periods of infectious disease outbreaks, according to Dr. Fraimow.

If you’re well, forget the face masks. The CDC indicates that it is not necessary for food service workers who are well to wear face masks. Face masks should only be used by health workers and people who are taking care of someone with COVID-19 in close settings (at home or in a health care facility) or by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others.

Stay home if you feel sick. Like any type of worker, those who work in the food service industry should not work if they are feeling ill or show signs of any type of illness, especially those with respiratory illnesses. If you are concerned by influenza-like symptoms especially those that worsen over time, check with your primary care doctor.

 

Looking to order takeout and support South Jersey businesses? Click here for our updated dining guide!

March 20, 2020
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