Good news for anyone scared of ordering takeout in fear of catching the coronavirus: you won’t get COVID-19 from food, even if an employee at the restaurant coughs or sneezes directly on your dish. The bad news? The idea that your food would be sneezed on in the first place.
According to the CDC, the USDA, and medical experts, there is no evidence of the coronavirus being spread via food, and it seems to be effectively impossible to catch the coronavirus from it. Still, some are freaked out by the idea of coming into contact with meals that have been handled by other people who could possibly have the virus.
J. Kenji López-Alt wrote about many people’s concerns in his guide to food and coronavirus published in Serious Eats. “Let’s say a food worker coughs while preparing my food, how could I not pick up the virus from eating it?” López-Alt asked. Ben Chapman, a food safety specialist from the North Carolina State University, assures López-Alt and everyone else that they’d be fine. “Even if a worker sneezes directly into a bowl of raw salad greens before packing it in a take-out container for you to take home, as gross as it is, it’s unlikely to get you sick,” he responded.
Business Insider further investigated this idea with the same findings. The experts they consulted agree on the idea that in the unlikely case someone with COVID-19 coughs directly in your meal, you aren’t going to catch the coronavirus. “The transmission is through the respiratory epithelium in your nose, mouth, and eyes. It’s unlikely to be transmitted in the food, more likely on hands while holding food packaging,” said Dr. Eric Cioe-Pena, an emergency physician and the director of global health for Northwell Health.
Jaimie Meyer, MD, a Yale Medicine infectious disease specialist, says that there is no evidence to date of food-borne transmission of the coronavirus, with the primary mode of transmission being “person to person is through direct inhalation of droplets.”