Can I get COVID-19 from food takeout or a drive-through?
There is no evidence that takeout or drive-through meals will increase chance of getting COVID-19. This option is a good risk management choice, especially for high risk and elderly groups because it helps maintain physical distancing. There is also no evidence that food delivered to your home will increase the chance of contracting the virus. Similar to takeout, food delivery helps maintain physical distancing and reduces the number of times food and packaging is touched between preparation and serving. Many delivery programs have also instituted no touch and no interaction options, further reducing risk.
If you happen to consume food that is contaminated with COVID-19, your stomach acid should kill the virus. Even if your stomach acid doesn’t kill the virus, there is no evidence the virus can start infecting people through their gastrointestinal tract. The only possible way to get sick is if, during eating, the virus encounters a specific type of respiratory cell. However, this scenario is highly unlikely and shouldn’t be of concern given what is known about how the virus is transmitted.
Current evidence shows the biggest risk of transmission of COVID-19 is being around individuals who are symptomatic (and to a lesser extent, infected but not showing symptoms.) Food businesses should be following employee health policies and health department recommendations to keep these individuals home.
Can COVID-19 be spread through refrigerated or frozen food?
Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread from person-to-person through respiratory droplets. Currently, there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food. Before preparing or eating food it is important to always wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds for general food safety. Throughout the day wash your hands after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing, or going to the bathroom.
It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. In general, because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from food products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient, refrigerated, or frozen temperatures.