Fast-food, Take-out, Delivery - nuking after you get the food?

I have no idea what kind of precautions any company is taking, and whether the employees would even follow protocol perfectly, so on the rare occasion I’ve gotten anything, I use gloves to handle the bag, dump the food on a plate, and then microwave it for 30 seconds in the hopes that combination of moisture in the food plus heat will kill any virus that may have been deposited. It feels like a lot of work keeping everything perfectly sterile and nuking the food drives some of the crispness away. It also means I don’t get any food items via this method that can’t be tossed in the microwave. I’d love a huge salad, but someone not being careful could leave virus behind, which could then be transferred.

So I’m curious if anyone thinks this is going overboard and what you all do?

So far since the covids hit I’ve received the following take out foods:

Pizza - reheated in the oven, as I like it a bit more crispy.
Bacon Double Cheeseburger - zapped it in the microwave for 30 seconds when I got home.
Italian Special Hoagie - did not put it in the oven , nor did I nuke it.

Everything I’ve read suggests that the risk of infection from the food itself is so small as to be purely theoretical. Given that, it seems like taking the food out of whatever it’s packed in, putting it on your own clean plate, and making sure to wash your hands before (and probably after) you eat should be plenty of precaution.

This: even if the virus somehow got onto your food, the food isn’t going into your respiratory system, which is where the virus needs to go to be a problem. Going into your digestive tract, it gets killed by the acid. There are diseases that foodborne transmission is absolutely a problem. COVID-19, to the best of anyone’s knowledge, is not one of them. Just unpack (they are typically sending them out in a plastic bag to minimize the risk of stuff getting onto the food containers themselves), wash your hands, eat. Even that’s quite possibly overkill, but it’s easy so why not.

There’s a few things here though. While yes the acid easily kills it in the stomach, there is still time for the virus to infect the lining of your throat on the way down (though probably difficult). I also didn’t know if one could inhale the virus off food, thus infecting the nasal passageways if you usually breathe that way (I do).

This is what we do. And we have been doing more take out lately, largely to support local business.

We’ve only ordered pizza and wings, and I’m not worried about it. One thing I love is Chipotle salads, but, I’m thinking I want to avoid cold foods for now.

No evidence either of these things is at issue as far as I know.

This is pretty much exactly what we do. Even if it’s not required, it certainly brings comfort to my wife (who has asthma) and is well worth doing. Yes, the food ends up a bit soggier than ideal, but on the plus side, it’s also a lot hotter than the delivery we used to just eat.

For me the tricky part is telling the restaurants to take my credit card number in advance and add on a good tip for the driver. They always want to send a machine, and I don’t want to handle that thing. Or get close enough to the driver to even take it from them. I always have them just drop the food on an outdoor chair sitting just outside my front door.

I think if I were in a high risk category I would reheat the food just for the psychological comfort. The other side of the coin is that food generally tastes better when it’s hot, so you’re probably improving it (depending on what you order).

We have ordered different combinations of hot and cold food. When I get a cooked food order I take it out of the container it comes in and put it on my plate and throw away the container and then wash up. For cold food we haven’t really done anything to it… Things like salads etc. Well, we do follow the same procedure as for hot food… Take it out of the packaging and put it on a plate or our own container and wash up afterwards. I don’t think we are that concerned about getting the virus from a piece of lettuce. I’m not dismissing the possibility but just saying I’m not terribly worried about it.

I think if I were in a high risk category I wouldn’t be ordering out at all. Not to knock JP or any one else if they do, I completely understand it for numerous reasons. But I would feel better myself just not taking the risk. I am not in a high risk category, but I haven’t even gotten a coffee since this started.

We’re not in a high-risk category, and we haven’t ordered any food at all. (We rarely did even in the before times.) That said, I really wish I didn’t have to make dinner sometimes. I think there’s a careful balancing of psychological needs going on that we’re all adjusting to. No judgment from me on anyone.

I would not describe delivery food as a meaningful risk, though certainly if one were high risk I wouldn’t blame anyone for skipping it anyway. You can get it contact free in a lot of cases. Even doing pickup it’s not too bad. You might have to be within range of one person for a minute or less to take the bag in a handover. Actually eating the food is not a risk at all as far as the science indicates currently.

Conversely, restaurants in particular are hurting badly for income right now and are usually already financially marginal. Giving them your delivery or pickup business will help them stay open in the long run. To me, the equation is pretty clear. The risk of losing my favorite places to eat is much greater than my risk of exposure to COVID. And I absolutely, 100% do not want COVID. But if I get it, I’m pretty sure it’s gonna be from getting groceries, or having to go back to work and do face-to-face client contact, not from getting bibimbap delivered.

I sometimes reheat fast food but that’s nothing to do with virus(that aspect is another vastly overblown myth). I do it cause its not always that hot by time I get home.

  1. Remove the food from the packaging it comes in, put it on your own plates, etc.

  2. Heat your food if it needs it because it’s cold, but otherwise, microwaving it hasn’t been shown as being effective or not effective anyway.

  3. Throw away the packaging your food came in, and then wash your hands thoroughly.

  4. Eat.

  5. Do the dishes.


There’s no evidence of COVID-19 spread from food or food delivery at this point. It’s worth being cautious and insisting on contactless delivery, but beyond that you’re fine.

I don’t understand that. Food delivery involves surfaces that could be infected. Sure chances are low, but how is food delivery different than going out in public and touching anything?

  1. We are discovering through studies and data, that prolonged exposure is one of the key components to COVID-19 spread. This is why shared living spaces, care facilities, prisons, shared workplace spaces (like manufacturing or processing plants) are being hit so hard.

  2. Contact infection of COVID-19 is spread through ACE-2 receptors that are plentiful in the mucous membranes – our noses and eyes. There are ACE-2 receptors in the mouth, and it is a risk, but a lesser one than in the nose or eyes.

  3. When you eat at home and remove food from packaging and eat it off your own plates, you are eliminating many other contact points. You’re not sitting in close proximity to others, or interacting with food service workers. You’re not occupying their spaces, including countertops, door handles, touchpads on payment devices, bathrooms, etc. You’re also not having to take it on faith on their own cleaning processes. You can use your own plates, glassware, and utensils at home.

  4. The primary vectors of infection that we think are out there comes from us touching our faces with hands that have come in contact with the virus. That’s why: remove the food from packaging, and then wash your hands after that step. If there was any potential for viral infection from the packaging, you’ve eliminated it by washing your hands.

It’s probably also worth noting that for restaurants you trust that do delivery or takeout…those should be your go-to places, out of abundance of caution.

And realize this: even “pretty good” restaurants and fast food places are likely to practice better safe food handling practices than most folks practice in their own homes. Restaurant and even fast food kitchens are set up to help prevent the spread of infectious diseases like Hep A, norovirus, etc. These places – and especially good food places that you really trust – are likely observing safer food handling than most of us are at home.

Reposting from another thread where we had this exact same discussion a month ago:

First, the good news: The virus is not likely to be transmitted by food itself, said Dr. Ian Williams, chief of the Outbreak Response and Prevention Branch of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which investigates foodborne and waterborne illnesses.

“There is no evidence out there that, so far with [Covid-19], that its foodborne-driven or food service-driven,” Williams said in an information webinar. “This really is respiratory, person-to-person. At this point there is no evidence really pointing us towards food [or] food service as ways that are driving the epidemic.”

The US Food and Drug Administration echoed that sentiment, saying on its website that it’s not aware of any reports suggesting Covid-19 can be transmitted by food or food packaging.


I’ll save you all the click: It’s safe.

“While COVID-19 is new to us, coronaviruses are not, and with all the studies done on these viruses, there has never been any information to implicate food-borne transmission,” says Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of medicine in the department of infectious diseases at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tenn.

The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is primarily spread via droplets expelled through coughing or sneezing, says William Schaffner. If you’re standing too close (within about 6 feet) to an infected person when the person coughs or sneezes, or even possibly when the person speaks or exhales, viral droplets could make their way to your nasal passages and mucous membranes. Or if you touch a surface with droplets on it and then touch your eyes, nose or mouth, that could also lead to infection.

All this means that transmission via food is incredibly unlikely, say both professors Schaffner — unless you actually inhaled your food. “Even in the so unlikely scenario of virus through a sneeze or cough coming into contact with, say, a salad, that would enter the body through the throat,” William Schaffner says.

William Schaffner explains that the virus is primarily risky to us when it attaches to surfaces in our respiratory tract, not when we accidentally eat it. “The virus seems to be latching onto cells in the upper reaches of the nose, a place food doesn’t enter,” he explains. “Virus that found its way into your gastrointestinal tract would be killed by the acid in your stomach.”

Interesting, thanks!