As the father of a young toddler, the son of two senior parents in the at-risk age group, and the chef/partner of a restaurant that up until recently employed a few dozen people and fed hundreds on any given night, knowing what is and isn't safe in the current environment is of the utmost importance to me, especially as it relates to food and dining.
Like many densely populated metropolitan areas, the Bay Area is now on complete lockdown. All non-essential businesses are closed, gatherings of large groups of people are banned, and residents have been told to leave their houses only if necessary. Among the businesses still running—at least in limited capacity—are supermarkets and restaurants, the latter of which are solely allowed to operate as take-out and delivery venues. I expect more cities will follow suit in the coming days and weeks.
Even so, plenty of folks—myself included—have been confused or curious about the safety of allowing restaurants to continue preparing and serving food. Is it actually safe? Should I reheat the food when I get it home? Is it better to support local businesses by ordering food, or am I only putting workers and delivery people at risk? And if I’m cooking my own food, what guidelines should I follow?
To answer these questions, I referenced dozens of articles and scientific reports and enlisted the help of Ben Chapman, a food safety specialist from the North Carolina State University and cohost of Risky or Not and Food Safety Talk.