Food is not just fuel, it’s comfort. Somehow we instinctively feel it’s important to eat yummy food when we’re mainly at home now.
If you need a break from cooking, you can still get food deliveries from restaurants or ‘da bao’ meals from hawker stalls and eateries. These options are great ways to help keep your favourite food places alive and they bring a variety to your stay-at-home snacks.
But if you order dishes from outside, you’re smart to take extra measures to protect your family against the spread of Covid-19 virus.
Because while there’s no evidence the virus can live in cooked food, the packaging may be another story. A new study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, found the virus can survive in the air and on some surfaces, for this long:
- In the air — 3 hours
- On copper — 4 hours
- On cardboard — 24 hours
- On stainless steel — 48 hours
- On plastic — 72 hours
“If you’re touching items someone else has recently handled, be aware they could be contaminated, and wash your hands,” explain James Lloyd-Smith, a co-author of the study and a UCLA professor of ecology and evolutionary biology.
With these new findings in mind, follow these hygiene and safety tips when you order takeaway:
1. Bring your own clean food container if you visit an eatery to pick up your da bao or takeaway orders.
You know it’s been washed, plus you help reduce single-use plastic waste. Taking your own container is great for the planet at any time, but it’s especially practical now.
2. Avoid meal deliveries if you or any family members are sick.
Or everyone is more at risk of infection. Even if you’re a kitchen newbie, you can cook winning dishes at home. Why not order some essential cookbooks and cook up a storm at home?
3. Get your meal delivered – to outside your door.
You don’t touch public surfaces like restaurant tables and door handles. For added safety, most delivery drivers in Singapore will now leave takeaway food deliveries outside the door and call you to let you know your food has arrived. Here are some great places to try.
4. Wash your hands immediately after you pay and pick up your food.
And avoid touching your face before you wash your hands. If you touch your eyes, nose or mouth with your contaminated hands, you can transfer the virus from the surface. If you have no access to soap and water, use hand sanitiser with at least 60 per cent alcohol.
Don’t forget to wash your hands after your meal, too!
5. Transfer food to your own clean dishes and cutlery to serve and eat.
Immediately dispose of all containers and cardboard boxes down your rubbish chute. Don’t leave them on kitchen counters.
6. Disinfect any surfaces in your home that come in contact with delivery bags or containers.
Wet wipes are handy for cleaning tables (and sticky toddler hands), but they don’t contain enough alcohol to kill the virus.
All this information is not to scare you. This is a new virus and new findings are emerging every day. For example, America’s Centre for Disease Control tested infected cruise ships and found faint genetic signatures of viruses (viral RNA), which had survived for 17 days on surfaces.
However, the scientists are not sure if this means those traces are infectious.
They may be like specks of dinosaur DNA locked in amber – detectable but not really alive. You can’t make a live dinosaur out of them, despite what we saw in Jurassic Park. Likewise, right now no one knows if cardboard or plastic bags can carry infections or not.
So, until we know for sure, it’s smart to be hygienic when you choose to order food to-go! Better safe than sorry, right?
By Tara Barker, Text adapted from The Singapore Women’s Weekly, April 2020/ Updated by Jashleen Kaur, July 2020