Preparing and Selling To-Go Food During COVID-19
With about 75% of Americans home-bound due to stay-at-home orders, ‘tis the season for takeout. Thank heavens we haven’t lost that, too. While takeout avoids dangers associated with mingling among other humans, it does involve some special food safety concerns.
First of all, there are no recorded cases of COVID-19 spreading directly through food, so any fear about that can be put to rest. And of course, for your own safety if you’re delivering, avoid standing closer than six feet from the person you’re delivering to. Most people will be more than happy to have food left on the porch.
But it’s not directly about COVID-19, it’s about general food safety concerns with takeout, since takeout is more common than usual right now and probably being done by establishments that haven’t regularly done takeout in the past. Here are some general considerations:
- One of the biggest concerns with packaging and delivering prepared foods is that it won’t be easy to maintain it at its proper temperature. This is especially true when making multiple deliveries. In order to best avoid unsafe food temperatures, only deliver food when someone is at home. Call ahead to confirm you’re on your way. While there’s no need to personally hand the food to someone, you should wait to ensure the customer opens the door and gets the food before leaving.
- On the flip side, if food is being picked up by the customer, make sure it is kept in a refrigerated or heated food storage area until the customer arrives.
- Once food is leaving the regulated restaurant area and being put in your car, extra care is needed to make sure your car provides a clean environment. No one is going to be pleased to find dog hair on their takeout bags or containers, for example. If you’re professionally delivering, make sure your car is suitable for transporting food.
- Still gotta wash those hands! Handwashing applies as it always does when handling food, even though you’re not in the restaurant. Having sanitizer or wipes in the car are a must, and your employer should definitely be willing to provide them.
- You already know about keeping raw foods separate from cooked foods in the kitchen area. While you probably won’t be delivering raw foods, it’s still important to avoid cross-contamination, particularly where temperature will be an issue. For example, placing chicken hot off the grill in the same container with potato salad could be a problem. Plus, food is more likely to get mixed during transport than it would be coming from the kitchen to the table. Be mindful of packaging foods separately.
If you still want more detail on Food Handler safety issues, check out our other blog entries here at Certified On The Fly!Back to Blog