HOUSTON — On Tuesday, the online movement #GreatAmericanTakeoutDay encouraged people across the country to order food from local restaurants to support them during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But in a time of social distancing, is it safe to touch items or eat food prepared or delivered by other people?

According to the FDA, there is no evidence of coronavirus being spread by food.

“Cooked food is pretty well cleared of any virus that it had in it while it was being cooked,” explained Dr. Melanie Mozoon, the managing physician for immunization practices at Kelsey Seybold Clinic.

Mozoon said that the vessel in which the food comes in is more of a concern.

“Most of your food is likely to be delivered in Styrofoam and plastic bags. No one really knows how long the virus can live on those kinds of surfaces. It would be wise to transfer the food into your own plates or bowls or dishes and use your own silverware,” Mozoon said.

She said you should throw those bags or containers away, disinfect surfaces they may have touched and wash your hands before eating your food.

If the food is being delivered, consider asking ahead of time to add the tip to your credit card over the phone and instead of signing a receipt at the door requiring face to face interaction, ask the deliverer to leave the food on the doorstep.

“Social distancing has variously been described as 3 feet or 6 feet, I think 6 feet is a safer option but you can’t take a bag from somebody 6 feet away,” Mozoon said.

When it comes to take-out and drive-thru service, you can call ahead to see if you can pay over the phone. That will limit the personal interactions that come with paying in person. Some fast-food chains have apps where you can just do it all from your phone, which is a good option, too.

These are just a few small steps we can take to make sure we are supporting local businesses safely.

“I think that this is a great idea to support businesses,” Mozoon said. “It’s really important to help everyone get through this crisis.”

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