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Your Covid-19 questions answered

Is food/grocery delivery safe during the pandemic?

26 November 2021 - 07:00
Food and grocery delivery is safe to use during the pandemic and will not transmit Covid-19 if health and safety protocols are observed. Stock photo.
Food and grocery delivery is safe to use during the pandemic and will not transmit Covid-19 if health and safety protocols are observed. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/Christian Mueller

Since the Covid-19 pandemic began last year, there has been a boom in home deliveries, as many stay indoors to avoid catching the coronavirus, but are these services safe?

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), ordering in is safe if the provider follows good personal and food hygiene practices.

All reputable delivery companies have a Covid-19 safety policy from sanitising to offering “drop at the door” options and not handling the actual package themselves.

You can do your part by washing your hands with soap and water after accepting the delivery.

There is no need to disinfect the food or packaging before eating or packing it away.

Prof Wolfgang Preiser, head of medical virology at Stellenbosch University’s department of pathology, told the Sunday Times that “packaging is extremely unlikely to be contaminated with a viable (still infectious) virus unless visibly soiled.

“In any case, packaging is removed before the preparation and consumption of food. Throw it away or recycle it and wash your hands with soap and water — done.”

study published in medRxiv found the virus can live on cardboard for up to 24 hours, and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel.

“Studies suggest that coronaviruses, including preliminary information on the Covid-19 virus, may persist on surfaces for between a few hours and several days,” the research finds. “This may vary under different conditions: type of surface, temperature and humidity.”

However, Preiser says food products are typically kept under strict hygiene conditions and handled by cautious staff, so the risk of getting Covid-19 through any of this is virtually nil.

Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health told US National Public Radio the probability of getting infected from a contaminated surface is low.

Respiratory droplets would have to have landed on the exact spot on the box you are touching in a large enough number to include infectious particles and you would have to touch your face in the time between touching it and washing/sanitising your hands.


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