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With the restrictions in Lockdown 3.0 being milder than the previous phases, people across India have resumed ordering food, groceries and other essentials, online. Several eCommerce websites and apps have also kickstarted their delivery services again in full swing.
However, with the news of a few delivery executives being diagnosed COVID-19 positive in Delhi and Bengaluru, consumers are now in a tight spot. To order or not to order—that is the question. The answer, fortunately, is yes you can. But, certain precautions need to be strictly followed to ensure that your delivered goods can be safe.
Scientists are yet to find any evidence of COVID-19 being transmitted through food and WHO has confirmed this. However, the infection can spread through delivery packages, containers and grocery items as the virus can survive on these surfaces for long.
Here is a list of safety tips you need to keep in mind while ordering from your favourite restaurant:
1. Check the hygiene rating
Almost all food delivery apps have safety standard badge or hygiene rating for the restaurants on their list.
- Make sure you order only from a place with a safety badge or requisite hygiene credentials, even if the list does not feature your favourite eatery.
- Ensure that the app you are ordering from is following all safety precautions with their delivery personnel.
2. Contactless Delivery
The option of contactless delivery has been active in most food delivery apps ever since the lockdown started. It is advised that both the delivery agent and the customer strictly adhere to all its norms.
- Always make sure that you have opted for contactless delivery while ordering online.
- In most cases, the delivery executives leave the food parcels or grocery packages outside the door, ringing the bell to alert the customer.
- Some apartment complexes are even preventing the entry of the agents beyond the main gate, allowing the residents only to collect their parcels from the security cabin.
- Paying online for your order is the only safe way at the moment to prevent infection, as cash exchange has a high chance of spreading the virus.
3. Discard the package
In a study published by the New England Journal of Medicine, it was found that the virus can survive on cardboard surfaces for up to 24 hours and around 2-3 days on plastic.
- Eating directly from the takeout parcel might seem tempting, especially to avoid the pile of dishes in your kitchen sink, but it is recommended that you discard all the boxes, foils and packets once the food is delivered. Transfer the food to a clean plate or bowl immediately.
- An added precaution would be to eat with your own spoons and forks. If possible, opt-out of receiving any cutlery with your food, and if you do receive it, discard immediately.
- For grocery items, transfer the contents of a cereal box or a packet of salt into a clean glass/plastic container at home and discard the package.
- For raw vegetables, wash the outer surface thoroughly with lukewarm water before keeping them inside your fridge.
- The same method can be followed with eggs as well, though be careful and delicate while washing the shell of an egg under running water.
- For fish, poultry and meat, discard the original sealed package, wash the contents and transfer it to an airtight container for storing in the freezer.
4. Wash your hands
- This is perhaps the easiest but the most potent way to keep the Coronavirus at bay. Wash your hands immediately after handling a delivered package or food parcel. Do not sneak a bite with unwashed hands no matter how delicious the dish is.
- Remember to lather with an antiseptic hand wash and rinse with water thoroughly for 20 seconds. An easy way to keep a tab of the time is to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice in your mind while washing.
- Avoid touching your face, mouth and nose before washing your hands.
5. Disinfect the Table top
- Choose a designated area for keeping your parcels before throwing away the package.
- Once you throw away the package in the dry waste bin, sanitise your tabletop or the designated surface with a disinfectant liquid. Wash your hands after this!
6. Heat Your Food
- As per the WHO, Coronaviruses are thermolabile (readily destroyed or deactivated by heat) and therefore susceptible to normal cooking temperatures like 70℃. Hence it is always recommended to reheat your delivered food before consumption, to remove all possible chances of viral infection.
- Refrigerated leftovers must always be reheated before eating.
- Food should not be stored for more than three days in the fridge. Anything older than that has to be discarded directly.
Try to follow the tips mentioned above diligently, and keep yourself and your surroundings clean as much as possible. That way, you can protect yourself from COVID-19 while also relishing yummy food.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)