With many of us trying to stay at home as much as possible, ordering meal kits and other mail-order food is a popular alternative to going out. The CDC has published some tips to make sure these types of food are handled in a way to prevent bacteria growth. Although the CDC reiterates there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 through food, it is important to be aware of foodborne pathogens that can make you sick.

Before ordering

  • Research companies and call customer service to ask about food safety standards. Ask how the company responds if food is delivered at an unsafe temperature or is otherwise not safe to eat. Find out if the company provides information with each shipment on safe handling and preparation of food, including cooking temperatures.
  • Arrange for delivery when someone is at home so food can be refrigerated quickly instead of being left outside until someone is at home.
  • Find a safe space for delivery if no one will be at home when food arrivesFood should be delivered to a cool, shaded, and secure location where pests and rodents won’t be able to get it.

Safe food delivery and receipt

  • Examine the box and packaging. When you get your delivery, look for stickers on the box that say “Keep Refrigerated” or “Keep Frozen” if you ordered perishable food such as meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, or dairy.
  • Make sure the company uses insulated packaging and materials such as dry ice or frozen gel packs to keep perishable food cold in transit.
  • Refrigerate or freeze your delivery as soon as possible. Bacteria can multiply rapidly if food is kept in the “danger zone” between 40°F and 140°F for more than two hours.
  • Notify the company if food arrives above 40°F. Don’t eat any of the food, or even taste it to see if it is safe. Food can be unsafe and still taste, look, and smell OK. When in doubt, throw it out.

Safe food handling

  • Wash your hands and kitchen utensils. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before, during, and after handling any food and before eating. Wash your utensils, cutting boards, and countertops with hot, soapy water after using them.
  • Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running water.
  • Separate foods to avoid cross-contamination. Keep raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs away from other foods, and use separate cutting boards, plates, and utensils for these ingredients.
  • Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours.  Make sure you know how long your leftovers will keep in the fridge or freezer.

You can read the full CDC recommendations here:https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/communication/food-safety-meal-kits.html?deliveryName=USCDC_485-DM25470