Restaurant Food Is Not a Big Risk for Coronavirus

My local burger joint had these signs posted at every other table.Kevin Drum

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New York and Los Angeles have both shut down bars and restaurants, but only for eating in. Takeout and delivery are still OK. Presumably this means that food itself poses little or no risk of coronavirus transmission, which seems a little odd to me. But apparently that’s the case. Here’s the European Food Safety Authority:

There is currently no evidence that food is a likely source or route of transmission of the virus. EFSA’s chief scientist, Marta Hugas, said: “Experiences from previous outbreaks of related coronaviruses, such as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), show that transmission through food consumption did not occur. At the moment, there is no evidence to suggest that coronavirus is any different in this respect.”

….Regarding food safety, the World Health Organization (WHO) has issued precautionary recommendations including advice on following good hygiene practices during food handling and preparation, such as washing hands, cooking meat thoroughly and avoiding potential cross-contamination between cooked and uncooked foods. More information can be found on the WHO website.

Obviously all the usual precautions still apply, including washing your hands and so forth, since a restaurant can have infected surfaces and coughing customers just like anyplace else. But the food itself is pretty low risk as long as you’re not eating at a total dive.

I’m only mentioning this because I like to eat lunch outside the house and I’ve been a little unclear on the guidelines for this. Don’t get me wrong: If I can’t, then I can’t, and I’ll make do. But if I can do it safely, I’ll keep doing it until someone tells me to stop.

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You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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