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Take-out currently best option

LIHU‘E — Restaurants are switching to take-out and delivery options as COVID-19 precautions pause dining in and other social activities or Kaua‘i residents, an action the Hawaii State Department of Health hasn’t developed specific protocols for, but condones.

A spokeswoman for HDOH said Monday that the state currently is following the safety precautions and protocols put together by North Carolina State University, which address the safety of take-out or drive-thru food. The information was put together in a project spearheaded by Ben Chapman, associate professor and food safety extension specialist at NC State University.

The information sheet, posted March 27 on the Food Safety News website, says there is no indication that COVID-19 can be transmitted by food or food packaging, and emphasizes currently the biggest risk of transmission is being around symptomatic individuals.

Food businesses should be following employee health policies and health department recommendations, and keep any symptomatic individuals at home.

NC State University analyzed risks associated with drive-thru, take-out and delivery food and currently surmises the option is “a good risk management choice, especially for high risk and elderly groups, because it helps maintain social distancing and reduces the number of touch points.”

Delivery, similarly, helps to maintain social distancing.

Current research, according to the University’s documents, shows the risk of transfer of the virus is very low when touching food packaging that has been exposed to coronavirus, but to further minimize the risk, “handling food packaging should be followed by hand washing and/or using hand sanitizer.”

According to NC State University, “there is no evidence to support transmission of the virus directly through eating food that might inadvertently contain the virus” — it’s generally thought to be spread from person-to-person through respiratory droplets, according to the university’s research.
Source: The Garden Island

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