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You Asked: Is takeout/delivery food safe during the pandemic?

Suffolk residents are enjoying takeout and delivery from their favorite local restaurants, as they stay at home and keep their physical distance from others.

The good news is that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Food and Drug Administration, and United States Department of Agriculture aren’t aware of any reports that suggest COVID-19 can be transmitted by food or food packaging, the NC Cooperative Extension stated in its March 23 flier “Is Coronavirus a Concern with Takeout?”

As explained on the Virginia Department of Health website, this virus causes respiratory illness, and foodborne exposure is not known to be a route of transmission.

“The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person,” according to the VDH website. “This includes between people who are in close contact with one another (within about six feet), and through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.”

There is no indication that takeout or drive-through meals will increase the risk of illness, according to the NC Cooperative Extension. Similarly, food delivery at home helps maintain social distancing and reduces the number of “touch points” between preparation and serving food.

Many food-delivery services — such as Grubhub, Uber Eats and DoorDash — have also instituted no-interaction options that reduce the risk of exposure even further.

There’s also currently “no evidence to support transmission of the virus directly by eating food that might inadvertently contain virus,” according to the NC Cooperative Extension.

“In commercial food production, processing, and preparation, there are many best practices that are routinely followed as per federal, state and local regulations,” the NC Cooperative Extension states. “These are all designed to prevent foods from becoming contaminated with microbes from the environment, including viruses.

“The best thing a consumer can do is to continue using good food safety practices before preparing or eating food, like always washing your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds after using the restroom, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.”

Virginia Tourism Corporation and the Virginia Restaurant, Lodging and Travel Association recently launched “Virginia is for Restaurant Lovers Takeout Week,” which runs through Sunday. This statewide campaign complements the ongoing efforts of Suffolk Tourism, which serves as a liaison for local independent restaurants and the community, according to a city press release Wednesday.

Residents are encouraged to patronize local businesses through curbside pickup and through delivery and take-out services, with more information available on social media and visitsuffolkva.com.

“This is a crucial time for our independently owned and operated businesses,” Tourism Development Manager Theresa Earles stated in the press release. “Our restaurants are particularly susceptible to a fragile economy. We are encouraging folks to ‘Love Local — Buy Suffolk, however they can, whenever they can,’ and to do so as safely as possible.”

Go online to visitsuffolkva.com for a list of Suffolk restaurants that are offering curbside pickup and/or delivery services.