Food Safety and Hygiene Protocols For NYC Restaurant Operators Providing Takeout & Delivery During Mandatory Shutdown Caused by Coronavirus (Covid-19)
On March 16th local governments ordered a shutdown of all in-room dining at restaurants and bars to stop the spread of COVID-19, the silver lining: takeout and delivery.

While many restaurants closed their doors entirely, others had to adopt new business models, in the hopes of bringing in some revenue, covering expenses and saving staff from unemployment.

Turns out the silver lining has many challenges. Besides the revenue of takeout and delivery not being enough to sustain many restaurants, there are many unsubstantiated fears with food being prepared in and delivered from restaurants. These fears have kept many people from eating food from restaurants right now.

We have put together some takeout and delivery information, tips, and ideas for restaurant operators trying to get through these difficult and unprecedented times.

Is Food Safe?

According to multiple health and safety organizations worldwide, including the CDCthe USDA, and the European Food safety Authority, there is currently no evidence that COVID-19 has spread through food or food packaging. Previous coronavirus epidemics likewise showed no evidence of having been spread through food or packaging.

Thorough cooking and reheating food at high temperatures before eating destroys the coronavirus.

Are there any special risks?

None that have been recognized.  Food handlers are specifically trained in proper safety and hygiene procedures. Every restaurant that serves food should be, and usually is following all food safety protocols and hygiene standards.  Because this should have always been a priority, the risk of eating food served at restaurants should be even smaller.

The main risk is proximity to other people. Picking up food can be riskier than having it delivered or cooking it yourself. Shopping at supermarkets can be even more dangerous.  The chef at your local restaurant probably follows stricter hygiene and safety protocols than a supermarket worker stocking the shelves.

takeout delivery pizza ordering mobile


We recommended the following hygiene and operating protocols for takeout and delivery:

For Restaurant Operators and Staff in Food Preparation/Ordering:

  • Keep in mind that there should be a minimum of 6 feet distance between all restaurant employees at all times. Practice social distancing.
  • Cross-train staff in case you experience staff shortage.
  • Be extremely vigilant when it comes to food safety and hygiene protocols. All staff should wash hands whenever touching something that has not been previously sanitized.
  • Prop open doors that are accessed often, like the entrance to the main kitchen, the dish room, prep kitchen etc.
  • Use a menu board and remove all menus. If you need to use menus, use single use paper menus that customers can throw away on their own.
  • Strictly monitor the health of each person that is allowed into the kitchen.
  • Use tamper evident labels to close all boxes/bags.

credit card online food order takeout deliveryFor Takeout Orders:

  • Encourage credit cards as a primary method of payment. Avoid cash as much as possible.
  • Implement no contact payment methods, encourage orders be placed online.
  • Implement curbside/contact free pick-up.
  • Food services should limit as much barehand contact as possible. Use Gloves… Always! Change gloves after each pick-up.
  • Wear Masks.

For Delivery Orders:

  • Contactless delivery is a very safe alternative, especially for those who are in high-risk groups.
  • For operators using their own delivery method (not Seamless, Grubhub, etc.), require packers and drivers to wear masks and gloves.
  • Encourage credit cards as a primary method of payment. Avoid cash as much as possible.

Guests Want Assurances That the Food They Received is Safe…Make Sure You Communicate with them:

  • Put your protocols on your website.
  • Let guests know that you are taking extra measures to ensure that the food you are delivering is as safe as possible.
  • Assure guests that you are monitoring staff wellness.
  • Tell guests about expanded cleaning protocols you have implemented.
  • Explain the anti-tamper labels on the packaging.
  • Include precautions you are taking to ensure food safety. Even if you had this in place before, guests want to hear about it now.

More Ideas for Delivery:

  • Turn dinner entrees into meal kits by packaging ingredients separately.
  • Deliver heat and serve dishes, cooking food it makes it safer.
  • Change any dishes designed to share or served family-style to single portions, this will encourage distancing.
  • Adjust delivery menu to include dishes that travel well.
  • Skip any dishes that are sensitive to temperature changes.
  • Create at-home baking or cooking kits for kids to do with their parents.
  • Deliver broths and noodles separately.
  • Think about what families want to eat while at home with children.
  • Include directions on using the microwave or oven to reheat items.

As seen on Total Food Service

Rada Tarnovsky

Rada Tarnovsky is a practicing attorney, who co-founded Letter Grade Consulting to help food service operators comply with regulations set forth by the NYC Department of Health.  Servicing restaurants, hotels, theatres, corporate cafeterias and schools, Letter Grade Consulting provides operators with preemptive solutions, education and training to sustain the highest level of food safety, remain inspection ready and maintain the “A” in the window. Rada can be reached at