Food Safety During Social Distancing


Social distancing has changed daily routines, including eating, for many of us.  With some planning and creativity it is still possible to eat healthfully to be able to maintain good health.  This is especially important for people with chronic conditions such as diabetes.


  • If you have to go inside a store, you reduce the amount of time you spend there by making a list according to the section of the store these items are located in.
  • Prepared for the unexpected—supermarkets are running low on many items. Be ready with a back-up plan if an ingredient you need is unavailable.
  • Many stores offer disinfectant wipes to clean your hands and wipe down cart and basket handles before shopping, or you can use your own wipes and hand sanitizer.
  • You can also try online grocery ordering for delivery or pick-up if available. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after putting away your food.
  • Canned and frozen fruits and vegetables provide similar nutrients as fresh. Go for low sodium canned veggies and fruits canned in juice or water if available.
  • If the store has run out of frozen items like vegetables, fruits, chicken, or fish, you can purchase fresh versions and freeze them. Breads and muffins, whether packaged or homemade, also freeze well for several months.
  • Vegetables such as broccoli, asparagus, green beans, carrots, and Brussels sprouts freeze well as do fruits like bananas, all berries, cantaloupe, and pineapple. Chop into bite-size pieces and place in a freezer bag.

Shop your Refrigerator First:  Plan Meals Based on the Foods You Already Have

  • Looking for healthful ways to reduce your trips to the store? Get creative with what you have on hand. Check the refrigerator, freezer and pantry for foods that need to be used up.  Leftover meats and veggies can be added to soups, salads or sandwiches.
  • You can save leftovers for a meal later in the week or frozen. Keep in mind that leftovers should be used within three to four days and reheated to a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Tips for Ordering Takeout or Delivery

  • If you get takeout, take the food home right away and eat it while it is hot.
  • If getting delivery, request that it be“contactless”, where the delivery person will notify you when the meal is left at the doorstep
  • Transfer the meal from its packaging onto a plate, discard the packaging, and wash hands thoroughly with soap and water.
  • Store leftovers safely—wrap tightly and refrigerate any dishes with meat, fish, poultry, or dairy products. Do not let leftovers sit at room temperature for longer than two hours.
  • Reheat leftovers to at least 165℉
  • The microwave is an easy way for reheating leftovers. Rotate food one-half turn midway through the heating time (if your microwave doesn’t have a turntable) and give it a stir to eliminate cold spots where bacteria can survive.
  • Be sure to label the date of purchase on your leftovers and remember to discard within three to five days.

Making healthful choices from an online menu can be a challenge — especially since nutrition facts are not always posted to online menus

Safe Food Handling

Preventing food-borne illness is more important than ever to avoid unnecessary visits to healthcare providers as well as to stay healthy.

According to the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, there is currently no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19. Like other viruses, it is possible that the virus that causes COVID-19 can survive on some surfaces or objects. For that reason, it is critical to follow the 4 key steps of food safety — clean, separate, cook, and chill outlined below.

As always, you should follow the 4 principles of food safety to prevent foodborne illness.

  1. Clean: Wash hands, utensils and surfaces often. Germs can spread and survive in many places.
  2. Separate: Raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs can spread illness-causing bacteria to ready-to-eat foods, so keep them separate.
  3. Cook: Food is safely cooked only when the internal temperature is high enough to kill germs that can make you sick.
  4. Chill: Refrigerate promptly. Bacteria that cause food poisoning multiply quickest between 40°F and 140°F.

Source: Executive Office of Elder Affairs