Experts weigh the pros and cons of food pickup, delivery amid coronavirus

Perhaps it’s crossed your mind when you picked up a food order, grabbed a beverage at the drive-thru or ordered a pizza: how significant is the risk of COVID-19 when handling pickup and delivery items?

While the chances of transmission via food courier are quite low, experts say taking a number of precautionary steps can help minimize risk and put the mind at ease.

With home delivery for example, proper distancing with the driver is highly recommended.

“You always ask them just to leave it at the door,” said University of Guelph food science professor Keith Warriner. “You’ve got more chance of being infected by a person rather than a parcel.”

Research published in the New England Journal of Medicine last week suggests the virus can live for up to 24 hours on cardboard and on other surfaces, including plastic, for up to 72 hours.

While there’s a small possibility an infected person may have sneezed or coughed while handling your food order, chances that the virus will be passed along on the packaging are slim, said Warriner.

He said frequent hand-washing, particularly before or after handling food and containers, can further mitigate the risk. So handling that pizza box shouldn’t really be cause for heightened concern.

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