Grab or No?

Amid the exasperating situation of COVID-19, one of the most popular delivery companies Grab shut down its offices for cleaning and disinfecting while staff has been asked to work from home. This was because an employee was found to be confirmed with COVID-19 on March 7. Fortunately, Grab said that the employee did not come into contact with any service staff, including Grab drivers and delivery riders.

Image taken from channelnewasia.com

Similarly, another delivery app that is as popular as Grab is experienced the same situation. That is, a corporate staff member of FoodPanda tested positive for COVID-19. In light of this issue, FoodPanda took steps by undertaking immediate sanitization procedures. Thanks to timely protective measures, no cases involving the riders were reported.

Image taken from techinasia.com

Even though strict preventing procedures are undertaken by delivery companies and supervised by the government, it is understandable that there are still a lot of people who are worried about potential infection when having contacts with the drivers or potential virus that could be transmitted to the food they order.

However, according to authoritative scientists and doctors, receiving delivery, no matter if it is food or packages, has a very low risk of getting infected by the virus, with a risk that is far less than mass gathering, dining and partying. Benjamin Chapman, A food safety expert at North Caroline State University, states that there is no evidence indicating food or food packaging is one of the source infections of COVID-19. Even though the delivery staffs are infected, there will still be thousands of factors that lowers the possibility of the virus transmitting through food.

Image taken from CNN Health (left) and Taste of Home (right)

Why does the spreading of food have a such a low risk regarding to virus transmission?

First, every restaurant would undertake rigorous sanitization measures to prevent the transmission of viral particles through food. These measures includes washing hands frequently, cleaning the food surface, as well as cook the food to an appropriate temperature and more.

Image taken from webstaurantstore.com

Another factor is COVID-19’s biological characteristics. A lot of food-borne virus could survive for a relatively long period (several days or even several weeks) on object or food surfaces, yet pilot study discovers that COVID-19 could only survive for several hours to days. Different from bacterias, virus is unable to grow within food, therefore the numbers of virus in food will decrease rather than increase over time. In addition, theoretically, this type of virus is also unable to survive in stomach as it has very high level of acid.

However, it is still unclear about the extent of virus transmission through oral contact or eating contaminated food. Chapman suggests that it is not completely impossible to be infected by COVID-19 through food.

Therefore, here are some tips to prevent potential transmittal of coronavirus:

1.Choose a restaurant that you have heard of

Larger and more professional restaurant has a relatively rigorous sanitization measure. Choose a restaurant that its brand is well-known, such as McDonalds’, Din Tai Fung, Heytea, Pizza Hut, etc. In addition, avoid ordering raw or cold food, as virus is eliminated at high temperature.

Image taken from http://www.mcdonalds.com.sg

2.Undertake careful sanitization measures

Choose non-contact delivery, wear a mask when having contact with the delivery staff, disinfect all the plastic bags and boxes, including straws and other dining tools. It is also better to heat the food again in order to eliminate potential virus. Most importantly, wash your hands (with soap or hand sanitizer) before eating.

Image taken from foodingo.com.sg

3.Reduce the number of times you are ordering

Overall, we don’t need to be overly nervous when ordering or receiving delivery, however, even though experts have stated that virus transmission through food is very low, it does not mean it is not possible. Therefore, under this special period of time, except for purchasing daily necessities or unable to cook by yourself, reduce the number of times you are ordering in order to lower the risk of getting infected by COVID-19.

Image taken from tech.ifeng.com

I sincerely wish that everyone stays safe—and well fed—during this difficult period.

Author: Christine(Qiao) Li

Christine (Qiao) Li is currently a senior and this is her first year working for The Eye. She is from China and spent most of her childhood there, but came to Singapore several years ago. In her freetime, she likes to get involved in music and arts, listen to music and drink bubble tea. She can be contacted at li48695@sas.edu.sg.

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