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From curbside pickup to delivery, MN Dept. of Health offers food safety tips

According to the FDA, there is currently no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with the transmission of COVID-19.

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota — Curbside pickup and delivery is becoming the norm during social distancing. 

"Curbside is a good opportunity to still get food from your favorite restaurants locally," said Kim Carlton, an environmental health supervisor at the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). 

According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, there is currently no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with the transmission of COVID-19. 

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person through respiratory droplets. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. 

Research from a federally funded study shows the COVID-19 virus can live in droplets in the air for several hours and up to several days on different surfaces. But it was conducted in an lab-created, experimental environment and not the real world and MDH said there is conflicting science on how long the virus can live on surfaces. So just be mindful and keep washing your hands. 

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"It's always a great idea to keep washing your hands at the forefront of your activities. Wash your hands when you bring the food home. Once you take it out of the containers, wash your hands again. If you want to get rid of those containers right away, probably not a bad idea. But we really just want to stress that you keep washing your hands regularly," Carlton said. 

Carlton recommends taking the food out of the containers and using your dishes and cutlery. Also, don't forget to wipe down any surfaces the containers touched. 

For people doing curbside pickup option, they may find themselves waiting in a line. That can make it hard to practice social distancing. 

"That's a tricky one. I think people just have to use their best judgement and if you're in a group of people, do your best to stay isolated and at least six feet away from other people," Carlton said. 

The editor-in-chief of Eater recommended to NBC News to not order during lunch and dinner rush times in order to avoid lines. 

Delivery apps are also offering "no contact" deliveries. The delivery worker will leave it at the door. 

"Just know that the food safety is still being monitored in Minnesota. The food that you pick up at the restaurants is safe to eat. So if this is a good option for you, go ahead and do it," Carlton said. 

And what about curbside pickup and delivery for groceries and packages? MDH recommends not reusing the packaging for several days if you need to hang on to it. 

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"So, touch it to unload groceries, fold up the bags and either recycle or store for several days (more than 3), wash hands, put away groceries and wash hands again," MDH said in a statement. 

Hospitality Minnesota, the trade association for Restaurants, Hotels, Resorts and Campgrounds, said in a statement: 

"As the federal government has acknowledged, food delivery and take-out are essential services during the current pandemic.  Restaurants and lodging facilities are stepping up all across Minnesota to provide people with food through curb-side pick-up and delivery options, as well as donation efforts to children, workers and others in need.  Our businesses are adapting as rapidly as possible, providing greater 'social distancing' for pick-ups and deliveries, encouraging electronic payment where possible, and intensifying our ever-vigilant hygiene and sanitation efforts to provide safe and needed meals to the public."

The restaurant industry is asking people to join #TheGreatAmericanTakeout tomorrow. They're urging people to support their favorite restaurants by ordering delivery or takeout on March 24. 

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The state of Minnesota has set up a hotline for general questions about coronavirus at 651-201-3920 or 1-800-657-3903, available 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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