With the rise of food delivery services such as Uber Eats and PickMe Food, we now have the luxury of ordering food and having it delivered right to our doorstep. But, while the food arrives all neat and looks appetizing, do you really know in what state it was prepared?
Recently, the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) introduced a set of guidelines to be followed by all food delivery services. The guidelines were drafted by officials of the CMC’s Health Department in accordance with the Food Act. In addition, the guidelines were also under the direction and instructions of Mayor Rosy Senanayake and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ruwan Wijayamuni.
Why was the food delivery guideline created?
The problems kick in with the increase in the number of food delivery partners. Each of these partners must adhere to the Food Safety Regulations when they are transporting food. Dr. Subash Mendis of the City Food Safety and Hygiene Promotion Unit shared that food deliverers are tasked with an important responsibility to maintain their hygiene according to a certain standard. As such, these guidelines were introduced.
Dr. Mendis shared that food delivery guidelines were first introduced to Uber Eats with a plan to introduce it to other food delivery services as well. Uber was onboard the initiative and had requested the guideline as well. This was so that they could make delivery partners aware of said food delivery guidelines and include it in the training of new partners.
What are the problems that the food delivery guideline aim to solve?
According to Dr. Mendis, some of the problems that arose with food delivery partners was that boxes containing food were placed between the leg space on scooters. He also added that partners sometimes stored personal items such as jackets inside the box containing food. Added to that, the box was not cleaned on a regular basis.
Dr. Mendis goes on further to share that delivery partners place food inside the box and fail to remove any food particles in it. He emphasized that delivery partners should not have any skin diseases or open wounds and that they should have clean hands and properly trimmed nails.
Another problem that Dr. Mendis identified was the rise of homemade food being prepared for commercial purposes. This has grown with the use of mobile apps for food delivery. He shared that “According to the Food Act, there are categories under which eateries should be registered. Snack bars, eateries, and lunch packet producers are some of these categories.”
“However, those who make food at home and deliver them through mobile application based food delivery applications are not registered under any of these categories. There’s a sizeable amount of homes which produce pickles, sweets, and sandwiches and deliver them through deliverers. We are in the process of expanding the ‘lunch packet producers’ category to get these home-based food-producing entities registered”.
Adding to this, Dr. Mendis also shared that an issue with homemade food entities was that public health inspectors were unaware of their locations. As such, he shared that they would get all the details from Uber in order to get these places registered. In addition, Health officials including PHIs would routinely check food delivery partners on the road for their hygiene and to seek if they comply with food safety regulations.
On the other hand, the regular inspection of these delivery partners can also affect delivery times. According to Dr. Mendis, “as long as they follow food safety regulations, its best for all stakeholders”.