Food delivery
The Dubai Police gives residents advice on how to prevent Coronavirus spread through food deliveries. Image Credit: Pixabay

Dubai: The coronavirus outbreak and home quarantine has made many people take to cooking, channeling their inner chefs, while stuck at home. But there is another part of the population that is ordering take-away since most restaurants and malls are closed.

The question that persists is: Is ordering food safe during the COVID-19 crisis? The Dubai police in a recent Instagram post gave residents tips on how to take precautions when ordering food deliveries.

Coronavirus and food

Available research says that the coronavirus spreads from droplet infection and can stay on some surfaces for a few hours or days. According to the website of Harvard Health Publishing, media division of Harvard Medical School of Harvard University: “There is no current evidence that the COVID-19 virus is transmitted through food.”

Food delivery guy 5
Speed is necessary sometimes for food delivery riders as it depends on whether they will be paid or not. Image Credit: Supplied

It further states that the virus can remain on surfaces or objects “for up to 72 hours”, which is why consuming certain food items like fruits and vegetables, before the given time, would need to be washed and rinsed thoroughly.

The concern then lies with not the food, but how it is delivered.

According to an article published by UK based British Broadcasting Corporation on March 27, delivery of food or packages is better than physically going to the store as you “avoid other shoppers”.

As far as take-out is concerned, the article states that reputable chains and restaurants maintain hygienic food preparation processes and “there would be minimal risk from a freshly cooked takeaway meal.”

People can reduce the risk of catching coronavirus if proper procedures are followed while receiving the delivery and disposing away the contents.

Food delivery precautions

The Dubai Police has given residents in the UAE a seven-point guide on how they can reduce their chance of catching coronavirus by adhering to measures while receiving their food delivery.

From their official Instagram account @dubaipolicehq, the police asked residents to do avoid direct contact with the deliveryman and to ask them to leave the order at the door. Place the bag in the kitchen skin and “do not keep the delivered dishes in a cabinet or refrigerator.”

The food should be placed on a clean dish, and the bag should be disposed off. It is advised to “disinfect the sink after”. Residents should use their own utensils and “wash hands for 20 seconds” before eating.

UAE residents and preferences...

UAE residents are taking precautions when ordering food from outside. 

Dubai resident Diksha Chadha orders food two to three times a week. She told Gulf News: "I am taking more precautions, I would never do so in the past. I choose to pay by card and select the “leave at door” option to avoid contact with the delivery staff."

She added that she transfers the food from the packaged box to her own container using gloves, and then washes her hands after.

Twenty-five year old Aman Anand does not order food often, but prefers to cook at home for most meals. When he does order food, he takes precautions in order to be safe.

The Dubai resident said: "I take out the container form the bag and put it in my own dish. I make sure to reheat the food before I eat it. I aso dispose off the bag and containers properly."

Anand said he washes his hands and only then eats his food. 

Social media reactions:

Many people practicing self-quarantine miss eating food from their favourite restaurants. Social media is still abuzz with questions about delivery safety and are still in two minds about getting take-out.

Twitter user @hammadGi posted: “I haven’t eaten from a restaurant in so long, is it safe to order food?”

User @tikireyiam posted: “I know people are ordering food but is it even considered safe to order food online from kitchens instead of cooking at home?”

@steMCLXXXVI posted: “Anyone know how safe it is to order a pizza? Sick of cooking my own food but obviously I won’t see the person preparing it, cleanliness etc. Maybe I’m just being paranoid.”

And tweep @MerileeParis posted: “I’m too afraid to order out. Even if the food is safe, the packaging has to be treated as if it’s contaminated. It’s not worth the risk.”

There have been many videos circulating on social media wich show delivery personel, of food and commercial goods, taking extra precautions and sanitising packages before delivering them to their location.

In India, concerns arose after a pizza delivery boy was tested positive for coronavirus in the capital, New Delhi. India currently has 12,380 confirmed cases.

The UAE has 5,365 coronavirus cases in the country as of April 16.