4 things you can do to help keep your take-out dinner germ-free

It's still safe to order carry-out and have food delivered. Just follow these tips to stem the spread of COVID-19.

BETTENDORF, Iowa — Whether you just don't feel like cooking or are making a conscious effort to support local eateries, you can still take comfort in ordering take-out food safely.

Colleen Doak, an associate professor in the Masters in Public Health Program at St. Ambrose University, has studied epidemiology for 20 years. She says existing restaurant and food-handling protocols are already in place to keep patrons safe. 

"If the restaurant is following the same procedures, the food itself is fine. The issue is how do they deliver that food to you," she said.

The crucial point is the handoff. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says "limiting face-to-face contact with others is the best way to reduce the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)" Doak suggests these tips when ordering take-out food or having food delivered.

- For curbside deliveries, ask staff put the food in the back of your car.

The contact with another person is the point of greatest risk for contamination. "For resteaurants that do curbside deliveres and pickup, that’s fantastic, so long as you can avoid that person to person contact, you maintain disntance," Doak says. If that's not possible, both parties should be wearing masks and maintain as much distance as you can. 

- When picking up food, do a touchless handover

Ask the staff to put your food on the counter and wait for them to step back before you pick it up to avoid close contact.

- Pay ahead or use touchless payment methods

Take advantage of credit cards and pay ahead or use your phone to pay electronically and without touch.

 - Always wash your hands or sanitize them before you eat

"Hand sanitzer is great but the moment you get home, soap is better." 

"The COVID-19 virus is receptors are specifically in the lungs. They’re not in the digestive syste," she adds.

Doak also provided News 8 with tips on how to safely shop and store groceries..