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Innovation, Sustainability and Food Safety in the Age of Delivery

Just Eat and Deliveroo Respond to Food Safety Concerns

Following the recent deaths of several customers who suffered allergic reactions from the food they bought through delivery and collection platforms, Just Eat has published a press release and Deliveroo has made several statements, detailing the steps they are planning to address the shortcomings of their systems.

Accurate and Relevant Information on their Platforms?

ClaimDeliveroo has stated that they will be overhauling their menus and begin providing allergen information for the products on their platforms. Just Eat have clarified their position on Allergens in a statement on their website.

Reality – Both companies have incorporated messages on their platforms, redirecting all queries about food items listed on their sites to the Restaurants from which the food is collected. At the moment, the inclusion of allergen information on Deliveroo’s platform is very hit and miss, with some items indicating partial ingredients and some nothing at all. This is a very difficult area and the communication they both seem to favour is to redirect all queries to the restaurant from which the food item will be collected. They have also begun incorporating messages on their platforms that seem to act as waivers for the restaurants concerned. If you are dining in a restaurant and you have a query about the ingredients or allergen of any particular dish, you can inquire. If there is concern, it is best to avoid the risk. On mobile platforms, this direct communication between the person ordering the food item and the restaurant (chef) is problematic. Hence, the need for the notifications appearing on some of the information pages of restaurants on Just Eat’s platform. In future, it is likely that both platforms will have introduced ease of communication tools which allow allergen queries to be handled efficiently and clearly between consumer and restaurant.

Restrict Access to Platform for Restaurants with Zero or Low Food Hygiene Rating

Claim – Just Eat claims that “All zero-rated restaurants to be removed from the platform” and there will now be “a minimum standard of FHRS rating of 3 for all new restaurant sign-ups”.  Additionally, Just Eat claim that “displaying FSA ratings is currently underway in Northern Ireland and will be rolled out across the whole of the UK in the coming months”.

Deliveroo has previously stated: “In the tiny number of cases where a restaurant we work with does not meet the high standards Deliveroo and our customers expect, we support them to raise their standards by making sure they have access to independent, expert advice.”

Reality – Both Just Eat and Deliveroo have been found in the past to be working in the UK with restaurants achieving a zero-out-of-five food hygiene rating. Many of these restaurants have been listed on both platforms. How many of these restaurants were listed and continue to be listed is difficult to assess.

Just Eat will continue to list restaurants with zero rating on its platform until the 1st of May 2019. A zero rating means the food business needs to make urgent improvements to their food hygiene standards. Just Eat have pointed out that they are working with restaurants that have achieved a poor hygiene rating to help them improve their performance.

Just Eat’s Platform now includes a link on the information page of each restaurant on their platform. If you want to know what the rating is, you need to follow the link provided. At the moment, you will find that you arrive at a BETA page for a new information service from the FSA. Follow the link further down the page and you will arrive at the search page where you should be able to see the hygiene rating for the restaurant concerned.

Having begun the rolling out of displaying FHRS ratings directly on its platform in Northern Ireland, we would encourage Just Eat to do the same promptly in the UK. If they want to be transparent with users of their platform, and we believe they do, now is really the time to start?

As with Just Eat, if you are a user of Deliveroo’s platform, and you want to know about the food hygiene rating of the restaurant your item will be collected from, you’ll find a link on the restaurant ‘note’ page, which will take you to the Food Standards Agency Hygiene Ratings page. The link provided by Deliveroo goes directly to the FSA’s Hygiene Ratings Search Page. Again, the question is why the rating is simply not shown on Deliveroo’s platform? Users of their platforms will surely want to see this? Why not make is easy?

Food Safety Training for Restaurants Using Their Platforms

Claim – Just Eat has agreed “to fund food hygiene and safety improvement programme for restaurants with a food hygiene rating of 2 or lower” and Deliveroo states that it will work with restaurants to “support them to raise their standards by making sure they have access to independent, expert advice,”

RealityDeliveroo and Just Eat have both partnered with Food Safety Specialists to provide access to food safety systems and food safety guidance (Surefoot Solutions, Checkit).  Checkit,a food safety management software provider, supports Just Eat partners with access to new digital food safety systems at ‘industry-leading rates’. Checkit have also partnered with the FSA to trial new technology for the remote monitoring of food businesses.

Just Eat have stated that they will be providing £1 million to help improve the food safety of the restaurants they contract with. We do not yet have access to the detail on how this money will be spent. What we do know is that both Deliveroo and Just Eat are setting up access to Food Safety Guidance and Food Safety Auditing Tools.

Heather Hancock, Chairman of the Food Standards Agency, has commented on Just Eat’s programme of works to improve their business: “I warmly welcome Just Eat’s significant new investment in food safety. The company influences thousands of food businesses and reaches millions of customers. Quite rightly, Just Eat is making clear that food safety and hygiene must be a top priority for all their partner businesses. I’m delighted that, from today, all new businesses joining the Just Eat platform must have a food hygiene rating of 3 or more and I strongly encourage Just Eat to apply the ‘minimum 3 rating’ across their platform as soon as practicable. This clear commitment to consumers – plus financial support from Just Eat for businesses to improve where they aren’t up to scratch – is the kind of leadership we expect and I believe it will drive up standards for the benefit of all.”

Reality continued – Food Delivery Platforms (Just Eat, Deliveroo, Uber Eat, etc) will want to support and improve the food safety standing of the restaurants they partner with. After all, their businesses really do depend upon it. Having focussed on growing a market quickly and capturing as much of that market as possible, these platforms are now moving onto the next stage and seeking to mature their business models. Supporting and maintaining the reputation of the restaurants they partner with, will now become a key aspect of what they do.

What’s Next? – Food Safety and Security in the Last Mile

Food Delivery during the last mile, where arguably the focus of Food Delivery Platforms (Just Eat, Deliveroo, Uber Eat, Etc)  should always have been, is really like the wild west. Restaurants and large food retail chains across the country, are daily, hourly, sending out food items for delivery where:

  • the shelf-life of the product is not known
  • the temperature of the food item (the temperature the food was cooked to and held at) is unknown
  • the food product travels without a label – no ingredient list, no allergens list
  • the food product travels in packaging that may not suitable for transport or/and not for transporting that particular item
  • the food item – package – is not sealed – could have been tampered with, how would you know
  • the food product travels without guidance notes or instruction – such as, ‘do not reheat’ – where the item has already been reheated once – it does matter – you cannot store and reheat again without risk
  • the food item is not transported at the right temp and not held at the right temp before collection – this matters when you don’t know shelf life – which, with current systems, is always the case

Some might see the current state of play as astonishing, given the level of risk? Food on the Move Today believes that our current systems can be greatly improved.

Working with innovators, food safety specialists, food packaging experts, systems developers, food equipment designers and manufacturers, software engineers and sustainability professionals working, Food on the Move Today is working to make food delivery platforms safe and sustainable. Why not join the conversation?

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