How safe is take-out and delivery food during COVID-19 pandemic?

Posted at 11:00 AM, Mar 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-25 13:08:49-04

BILLINGS — As restaurants focus entirely on take-out and delivery options due to COVID-19 (coronavirus) restrictions, some people have wondered about food safety. MTN News researched the safety of take-out food and how to minimize the risk of infection from COVID-19.

According to several health and safety organizations, including the federal Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, there is currently no evidence that COVID-19 has spread through food or food packaging. Previous coronavirus epidemics likewise showed no evidence of having been spread through food or packaging.

The CDC website states: "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."

The USDA website states: "We are not aware of any reports at this time of human illnesses that suggest COVID-19 can be transmitted by food or food packaging. However, it is always important to follow good hygiene practices (i.e., wash hands and surfaces often, separate raw meat from other foods, cook to the right temperature, and refrigerate foods promptly) when handling or preparing foods."

Preliminary research conducted in March by Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Hamilton tried to answer the question of how long COVID-19 stayed alive on different surfaces. Their researchers found that COVID-19 can survive on hard surfaces like plastic and stainless steel for up to 72 hours. The virus can stay alive on cardboard for up to 24 hours. The research has not yet been peer reviewed, but according to National Public Radio, the paper is expected to be published in a scientific journal.

Because the virus can stay alive on surfaces for days, it's important to manage the risk of COVID-19 infection when ordering take-out or drive-through meals. According to North Carolina State University, COVID-19 is thought to be spread person to person through respiratory droplets or saliva and mucus.

The university said there is currently no evidence to support the claim that COVID-19 is transmitted by eating food. This is because COVID-19 infects via the respiratory system or lungs, and not through the digestive tract or stomach.

It also may be possible to contract the virus by touching a contaminated surface, then touching a person's eyes, nose or mouth, according to NC State. That's why whether ordering take out or cooking at home, it's important to practice good food safety hygiene.

If a person touched take-out food packaging, it's important to wash your hands before you dig in. This makes sure your hands are clean before bringing your hands or a fork close to your face.

It's also important to wash your hands after using the bathroom, blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

As the community continues to support its struggling local businesses, remember to practice good food safety hygiene and wash your hands frequently to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

KRTV, along with our parent company Scripps and all Scripps-owned news outlets, are working to promote local restaurants, and City Motors in Great Falls is teaming up with KRTV to help get the word out about participating restaurants. With the help of the Great Falls Area Chamber of Commerce we have put together this list of restaurants that are focused on take-out; the list is not all-inclusive, however. If you know of one that should be added, please let us know by sending an email to NOTE: Some of these restaurants may have decided to temporarily close or change their hours of operation due to the restrictions; please call ahead if you plan to visit any of them.

Bar S - Menu (406) 761-9550
Big Mouth Barbeque - Menu(406) 727-7095
The Block Bar & Grill - Menu(406) 315-1783
Bright Eyes Café - Menu(406) 453-5763
Broadwater Coffee Brewing Company - Menu(406) 781-9744
Borries - Menu(406) 761-0300
Burger Bunker - Menu(406) 952-0130
Celtic Cowboy - Menu(406) 952-0393
City Bar & Casino - Menu(406) 761-9432
City Brew Coffee - Menu(406) 952-0041
Clark and Lewie's - Menu406) 454-2141
Cold Stone Creamery - Menu (406) 454-0000
Crooked Tree Coffee & Cakes - Menu(406) 315-1221
Double Barrel Coffee House Cafe - Menu(406) 315-2463
El Comedor - Menu(406) 761-5500
Electric City Coffee & Bistro - Website (406)-452-4529
Enbar - Menu(406) 952-1520
Family Affair - Facebook (406)- 453-0571
Ford's Drive-In (406) 452-7972
Fuddruckers - Menu(406) 727-6988
Good Eats Catering - Menu(406) 452-0773
Jaker's Bar & Grill - Menu(406) 727-1033
Jimmy John's - Menu(406) 268-3278
JJ's Bakery - Menu(406) 727-5910
KFC/A&W - Menu(406) 761-0867
The Last Straw Bistro - Menu(406) 866-0616
Mackenzie River Pizza - Menu(406) 761-0085
McDonald's - Menu(406) 761-7758
Mighty Mo Pizza CO - Menu(406) 952-0342
Missouri River Diner - Facebook (406) 268-1760
Morning Light Coffee - Website (406) 453-8443
Montana Sub Shop - Facebook - (406) 454-0651
Mrs Wrights Pastys - Facebook (406)-750-8852
MT Pints - Facebook - 406-315-3501
Perkins - Menu (406) 453-2411
Roadhouse Diner - Menu(406) 788-8839
Saibeen's East Indian and East African Cuisine - Facebook - (406) 788-4191
Schulte's 38th Street Coffee House - Menu(406) 453-3450
Smoked. American Barbeque - Menu(406) 952-1227
Subway - 4th St NE - Menu(406) 452-8708
Subway - 10th Ave N - Menu(406) 452-9838
Subway - 31st St SW - Menu(406) 452-2114
Subway - Fox Farm - Menu(406) 452-0122
Subway - Smelter Ave NE - Menu(406) 452-7827
Subway - 10th Ave S - Menu(406) 442-2658
Taco Del Mar - NW - Menu (406) 727-1093
Taco Del Mar - Marketplace - Menu (406) 727-1093
Taco John's - 14th St N - Menu(406) 727-2758
Teriyaki Madness - Menu(406) 315-3388
Tracy's Family Restaurant - Menu(406) 771-7456
Wheat Montana - Menu(406) 771-7456