Q: I receive home delivered meals through your nutrition program. I am really worried about the safety of the food with all the news about this awful virus that has infected so many people in our area. I am elderly and not very steady on my feet, shopping in a grocery store would be very difficult for me. I have also heard the shelves in many stores are empty. Can I trust the meals they give me every day? They really help me out.
A: We always make every attempt to give our readers the most up to date information in answering any questions submitted to us. You are not the only person who has expressed concern about the safety of food whether it is coming from our caterer for the nutrition program (Meals on Wheels), local restaurants or grocery stores.
According to the Department of Food Science at Rutgers University “there is currently no evidence that the disease is transmitted by food.” The Food and Drug Administration, Department of Agriculture and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are all in agreement regarding the safety of food.
Unlike bacteria that causes foodborne illness the virus doesn’t multiply on food. COVID-19 is transmitted when a person is in close contact with someone who is infected (coughing and sneezing) or in direct contact with surfaces the infected person has used or been near. This explains the urgent reason for people to practice social distancing (a minimum or 6 feet).
Staff involved in food preparation and distribution are following strict guidelines to prevent potential transmission of the virus. Food industry workers are instructed to stay at home if sick or are in contact with people who have the virus. Frequent hand washing has become critical more than ever before.
Gil Rossomando, President East at TRIO Community Meals (caterer for our nutrition program), wants to assure all meal recipients of the actions the TRIO team is taking:
Elevating the sanitizing process beyond recommended procedures, especially production surfaces, delivery equipment and vehicles, packaging stations and any communal surfaces.
Enhancing the rigid sanitation procedures and training to safeguard a safe workplace and meal production and packing processes, thus ensuring the health and safety of meal recipients and TRIO team members.
Conducting daily huddles with TRIO team members to reinforce handwashing procedures and disinfecting protocol.
Ensuring TRIO team members preparing and delivering food are healthy and have not been exposed to COVID-19.
It is also believed the risk of contamination of food packaging is low. If someone is concerned about any food delivered whether that be through Meals on Wheels, curbside pick up or take out food delivery the following actions are suggested. Place the container on a clean surface, wash your hands and wipe down the disposable container with a disinfecting wipe or transfer the contents to a new container. As always refrigerate perishable foods and leftovers promptly.
Are you struggling caring for an older adult or having difficulty locating resources? Our staff is available for a no-cost consultation, set up at your convenience, to help guide you through your caregiving experience. For more details or to schedule an appointment, please call our Lawrence Office at 800-892-0890 or Danvers Office at 978-750-4540.
Do you have a question? We encourage inquiries and comments from our readers. Please direct your correspondence Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley and North Shore, Inc.:
Lawrence Office: Age Information Department, 280 Merrimack Street, Suite 400, Lawrence, MA 01843 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Danvers Office: Information and Referral, 300 Rosewood Dr #200, Danvers, MA 01923 or email@example.com
Joan Hatem-Roy is the Chief Executive Officer of Elder Services of Merrimack Valley and North Shore.