Amid the COVID-19 crisis, restaurants and food establishments in South Carolina have been limited to providing takeout and delivery options only. But a lot of people are wondering if ordering out can make you sick. Here are the best ways to keep yourself safe and informed, while also supporting your favorite local eateries.
Is it safe to order delivery and takeout food?
The short answer is yes. There has been no evidence that food can transmit COVID-19, according to the CDC and Food and Drug Administration (FDA). When it comes to transmission, your safety risks are associated more with interacting with service workers who haven’t practiced proper hand washing techniques. You probably won’t get the coronavirus from improperly handled food. Though there is the chance you may get food poisoning from delivery and takeout food.
What you should do if you get serious food poisoning
Unfortunately, food poisoning isn’t uncommon. Typically symptoms last only a few days but there are some instances when tainted food can cause serious and lasting health problems. If you suspect serious food poisoning from delivery and takeout food, here’s what you should do:
- Seek medical attention. Having a record from your doctor, diagnosing your illness can be helpful if you decide to pursue compensation from a restaurant, food distributor, or other entity for causing your sickness
- Record your damages. If your illness continues or gets worse, make sure you document all expenses and losses. Including medical costs, wages lost during recovery, and any other personal damages.
- Contact a personal injury attorney. A simple stomach ache may not be enough to get you compensation for your illness. But if your symptoms are serious enough or long-lasting and lead to health complications, large medical expenses or treatment costs, and substantial damages, you may be able to get help and compensation.
Is it ethical to expose a delivery worker to the risks you want to avoid?
It’s a tricky question to answer. With so many people getting laid off from work right now, you’re probably wondering if you’re helping delivery and food service workers by ordering delivery and takeout food or making things worse for them. Many delivery workers are facing physically demanding jobs, with high instances of exposure to theft and crime not just COVID-19. Delivery and food service workers also deal with low wages. They typically lack many employee benefits, such as healthcare insurance from their employers. But workers rely on your delivery and takeout orders to pay their bills and support their families. There’s no perfect solution in a pandemic. Here are a few suggestions on how you can get your next meal with a clearer conscience:
Learn what ordering method is right for you
If your favorite local restaurants have in-house delivery options, consider ordering through them directly rather than going through third-party services that have fees that can take away from the restaurant profits. If the restaurant only has third party delivery options, learn more about which of those companies are taking steps to ensure their employees stay safe. Some platforms provide drivers with disinfectants, gloves, and hand sanitizer, waive delivery fees for small restaurants so they receive more from orders, provide paid sick leave to workers who test positive for COVID-19, and prevent workers from receiving negative reviews due to timeliness issues due to a higher demand for service. Check the website of your go-to delivery app of choice to see what measures they’re taking to protect you and their workers before you place your order.
Many restaurants allow for a “no contact” or “contactless” delivery option. This protects people with compromised immune systems from being exposed to delivery drivers that could be asymptomatic but carrying the virus. It also keeps delivery drivers safe from coming into contact with people who have COVID-19 that are quarantined at home. As mentioned above, the food itself isn’t the issue. The problem is human-to-human contact. The CDC recommends maintaining a distance of at least 6 ft from people outside your household to help decrease your risk of exposure to the coronavirus.
Discard/disinfect surfaces that could be contaminated
The CDC does state that “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”. Most haven’t contracted the virus through touching contaminated surfaces. Still it’s wise to take precaution with packaging materials you receive when you order delivery and takeout food. Things like paper or plastic bags, receipts, menus, etc should be discarded immediately once brought into your home.
Wash your hands frequently and maintain good hygiene
Proper hand washing can’t be stressed enough to protect you and your family from the COVID-19 virus. After touching potentially contaminated surfaces and before/after eating, make sure to wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water aren’t immediately available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Other ways to maintain good hygiene at this time include not touching your face with unwashed hands. Remember to cough or sneeze into a tissue or your bent elbow (rather than your hands), too.
Sharing isn’t caring
While it’s tempting to want a bite off someone else’s plate, now isn’t the time for sharing. Avoid sharing utensils, drinks, and even food. If you need to spit a shared takeout order, divide up portions onto separate plates before eating with your own cutlery.
Make sure to tip your delivery drivers and food service workers generously
The absolute minimum you should be leaving as a tip is $5. In this pandemic, consider doubling or even tripling that. Depending, of course, on how much you ordered and what your individual financial situation is like. Another human being is putting their life and well-being on the line. Risking exposure to a highly infectious and deadly disease so that you can get a hot meal without having to set a foot outside or into your kitchen. Hopefully that’s worth something to you.
Another way to show gratitude is by leaving a high rating for the workers serving you. While it doesn’t help immediately, it’ll show to the worker’s employer that they’re doing a good job. It will also help them maintain job security in these trying times.
Other ways to support your favorite Greenville & Pickens restaurants
Despite all the delivery and takeout food orders, restaurants are still struggling right now. You can help keep businesses open and people employed by buying restaurant gift cards or merchandise like shirts, hats, or cookbooks. You can always spend the gift cards in the future. Or use them as birthday or Christmas presents later in the year for local friends and family members!