Takeaways have been popular during the coronavirus lockdown. Around 3,000 more takeaways have joined platform Just Eat since lockdown began. Expenditure on takeaways in the UK has grown by 15 percent since 2015. But is it safe to order takeaways during lockdown?
Demand for takeaways has skyrocketed during the coronavirus pandemic.
According to research, Britain’s takeaway industry was worth £4.2 billion in February 2018, up from £2.4bn 10 years before.
Data from Kantar published in April found deliveries surged in the week before lockdown, up 57 percent year on year.
The data showed an initial slump in deliveries once the lockdown was implemented, partly due to fears around food carrying the virus.
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So how concerned should you be about the safety of ordering takeaways?
As things currently stand, there is very little risk of catching coronavirus from the food you get delivered.
However, there is a risk of transmission during delivery.
The Food Standards Agency has said it is “very unlikely” the virus could be spread from takeaway food because the virus struggles to survive in the heat.
The Government guidance regarding takeaway food reads: “Where possible you should place your order by telephone, app or online and get a designated time for collection.
“If you are collecting your food in person from a takeaway or restaurant which offers a pick-up service, you should adhere to the social distancing rules set out by the food business.
“This may include having staggered collection times and using a queue management system to maintain the two-metre separation.
“It is safe to have takeaway food delivered if the business you order from follows the Government’s safety guidance.
“Staff preparing your food should regularly wash their hands and maintain good hygiene practices in food preparation and handling areas.
“Government advice on social distancing applies to those delivering food. You should minimise the chance of coronavirus spreading by maintaining a distance of two metres when the food is delivered.”
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University of Southampton’s Professor Bill Keevil, a professor of Environmental Health has said the risk is “very low”.
Professor Keevil told the Telegraph: “If food is heated and cooked, there’s absolutely no danger at all.”
He said: “Since the virus can survive for 24 hours on cardboard, and a takeaway is delivered within an hour, there would be a risk that someone handling a pizza box or takeaway packaging could potentially – and I say potentially – leave traces of the virus on there, if they were a carrier.
“Obviously, reputable food outlets are supposed to have well-documented, controlled hygiene measures.
“Ideally staff should be wearing gloves, washing hands, being sent home if they’re displaying symptoms – so in my view, at the moment, it’s a very low risk.”
Restaurants offering takeaways are advised to practice appropriate safety measures.
Regarding packaging, Professor Keevil added: “If those preparing your food are following all the guidance for good food hygiene, that should be sufficient.”
His suggestion for those particularly concerned about packaging is to dispose of packaging safely and to avoid unnecessary contact with it, making sure to wash your hands immediately afterwards.
What safety precautions have takeaway platforms taken?
Deliveroo, Uber Eats and Just Eat have announced all deliveries in the UK would be contact-free.
This means customers will collect their delivery from outside their door with the delivery driver waiting at a two-metre distance for the customer to collect it.
In addition, the takeaway platforms are taking steps to minimise the spread of COVID-19 such as drivers weaning gloves and often masks and contact-free payment methods being advised.
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