Masks and Food Preparation During COVID-19

NBC Universal, Inc.

So as you’re unwrapping that takeout sandwich, it occurs to you that the guy who made it was not wearing a mask. But you’ve also read that the FDA has said the risk of virus transmission from food is extremely low. 

“That doesn’t mean, especially if someone is preparing something that is not gonna be cooked, that it wouldn’t be wise and socially appropriate and noble, even, to go ahead and wear a homemade mask when they’re preparing other people’s food,” said Dr. Aileen Marty, an infectious disease expert at FIU Health. “The risk isn’t zero.” 

With masks on, we checked out five lunch spots along Miramar Parkway. 

Only one of the five, Pollo Tropical, had any employees at all wearing masks. There were two clerks inside who had their faces covered and expect to see more at the chain’s restaurants. 

The company sent us a statement saying, “We have been closely monitoring CDC and other governmental guidance relative to steps recommended in fighting the spread of COVID-19. As such, we have implemented strict procedures in our restaurants related to social distancing, hand washing and gloves and increased cleaning and sanitizing. While there has been conflicting information regarding the effectiveness of masks, in an abundance of caution and with the safety of our associates and guests in mind, we are implementing a further policy of requiring our associates to wear face coverings. Given the shortage of masks, we have sourced bandanas to be used by our associates where we have been unable to obtain masks.”

Good idea, says Dr. Marty. She pointed out that countries which have required everyone to wear masks in public, such as the Czech Republic, have seen their infection rates drop. 

“Then the polite and proper thing to do is go ahead and wear a homemade mask, then you’re not taking away those masks that we need for health care providers but you are decreasing the spread of the virus,” Dr. Marty said. 

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