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Yes, takeout food is still safe. Here’s why.

Environmental Health Supervisor Carolyn Bassett
by Carolyn Bassett03/27/2020 2:59 p.m.
Updated: 03/27/2020

You might be worried about lots of things right now. But we have good news: You don’t need to worry about takeout and delivery food from restaurants.

To understand why, you’ll need to learn a little about the science.

Stay Home, Stay Healthy

Gov. Inslee ordered restaurants and bars to temporarily suspend in-person dining March 16 to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Those closures continued with his Stay Home, Stay Healthy order March 23.

But restaurants and bars can still offer pickup and delivery.

You may be wondering why that’s allowed. If in-person dining is a risk, how is takeout safe?

Illnesses spread in very different ways

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness. It spreads through droplets produced when a sick person coughs or sneezes. It grows in your respiratory system.

Your body processes food through your digestive system, not your respiratory system. So COVID-19 doesn’t spread through contaminated food or water.

Common foodborne illnesses caused by things like norovirus or E. coli are different. They spread when you consume contaminated food or drinks.

A half-eaten pizza in an open box

So, you don’t have to worry about COVID-19 spreading through contaminated food. And our rules and regulations to make sure your food is safe from foodborne illnesses still apply during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Of course, you do need to practice social distancing and good hygiene when you interact with the food establishment. 

Ordering takeout is an easy way to support local bars and restaurants during this challenging time. Other ways you can support local businesses:

Buy gift cards

Buy a gift card from your favorite business. You might not be able to use it right away, but it will help the business through the closure. You’ll be able to use it when the business re-opens.

Pass on the refund

Were you looking forward to a concert or other event that was canceled? Many are offering refunds. Declining the refund if you’re able will help those events and venues.

Farmers markets

Check to see if your local farmers market is open. Buying from farmers markets is a great way to get groceries and support local agriculture.


Many people in your community rely on food banks. Donate to them so they can continue to feed your neighbors. Your support will help our local businesses re-open and bounce back.

Even if you can’t offer financial support, look for ways to help others in your community. We will get through this together.
  1. Updated: 03/30/2020
Environmental Health Supervisor Carolyn Bassett

by Carolyn Bassett

Carolyn works to make sure everything you eat is safe.


We invite your comments but will delete those with profanity, personal attacks, derogatory statements, ads or promotional material. Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department does not provide personal medical advice; please contact your health care provider.