Experts: Highly unlikely COVID-19 would spread through prepared food

Experts: Highly unlikely COVID-19 would spread through prepared food

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MILWAUKEE COUNTY, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Some people may still be wary of ordering take-out and delivery in fear the coronavirus could spread through the people preparing and delivering our food, but experts say you don’t have to worry.

Local restaurants are now hanging by a thread to keep their businesses going. The Wisconsin Restaurant Association says most restaurants who are keeping their doors open are seeing a whopping 60-percent reduction in their normal sales.

It’s a drastic change, because just a week ago these restaurants were fully operational.

Experts say it’s highly unlikely COVID-19 would spread through food. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says food borne exposure to coronavirus is not known to be a route of transmission.

“They’re not likely to survive on food for very long, we think they’re susceptible to things like heating,” said Dr. Barbara Ingham, a food science professor at UW-Madison.

“Right now there are no known infections that have occurred from people eating food and catching the virus,” says John Reiss, a culinary arts instructor for Milwaukee Area Technical College.

With dine-in no longer an option, WRA says the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every single restaurant and its staff.

“It is really heartbreaking to these owners and operators, they do not take it lightly,” said Kristine Hillmer, President and CEO of the Wisconsin Restaurant Association. “I have taken so many calls where they’re just in tears, asking what do I do? How can I make this work for them? So this is all new territory.”

“They are making a choice everyday between health and trying to pay rent,” adds Reiss.

Hillmer says she is thankful Governor Tony Evers considers them an essential piece to the community, and she hopes people will continue to support local restaurants through take-out or delivery.

“Restaurants are essential and so restaurant workers are essential workers that will be able to continue to go to work and continue to serve and prepare safe food,” Hillmer adds.

Experts say during this time, most restaurants have doubled down on cleanliness, giving people another reason to not have to worry about the food they’re receiving.

“They’re taking precautions and I think we can really take comfort and be pretty reassured that local food, certainly from a very reputable establishment, should in no way, shape or form make someone sick,” adds Dr. Ingham.

Reiss says even with local restaurants operating as take-out and delivery only now, many are still not breaking even.

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