SAFETY IS PARAMOUNT

Online food delivery is convenient, but how safe is it?

Food poisoning is real and can kill.

In Summary
  • There is little information on how online eateries are regulated and especially on matters relating to the safety of their products.
  • While it is impossible for consumers to run away from online food vendors, it is possible for them to take precaution and order from reputable brands.
Pizza.
Pizza.

The advent of mobile food delivery services in the country is giving restaurants a run for their money. The middle and upper classes are no longer interested in sitting in restaurants and prefer ordering their meals online, which are then delivered to the comfort of their locations.

This is the new world of technology where, at the click of a button, products and services are availed at the consumers’ convenience. Indeed, this is proof that the world is becoming a global village where technological advancement has provided a platform for limitless exchange of goods and services.

Given the sensitive nature of the food industry, however, concerns must be raised over the safety of meals delivered by online cookeries. Ordinarily, there are regulations around food handling in Kenya and stringent measures over establishing and running of food vending outlets.

Food is considered to be safe if there is reasonable demonstrated certainty that no harm will result from its consumption under anticipated conditions of use. In Kenya, the responsibility for coordinating the multiple institutions (agencies) involved in food safety management rests with the Department of Public Health under the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation. 

Justly, the convenience of food delivery is legitimately phenomenal as one can order their favourite meal anytime, day or night, weekday or weekend.  As our lives get busier with work and family responsibilities, we also want things faster and easier. Online shopping is one of those dazzling expediencies that have come to the rescue in our thriving, demanding lives. However, the big question is; how safe is this convenience?

Other than the usual requirements for establishing an online shop, there is scant information as to additional safeguards in the registration of an online food vending business.

To start a physical food business in Nairobi, one needs various permits that are issued by the county government; business permit, food/health related permit and fire safety certificate, among others. Recently the Nairobi county government announced plans to consolidate all these under a unified business permit that will cost around Sh50,000 per year.

There is little information on how online eateries are regulated and especially on matters relating to the safety of their products. Other than the usual requirements for establishing an online shop, there is scant information as to additional safeguards in the registration of an online food vending business.

More often than not food ordered online is delivered by riders on motorcycles. While it is subjective to claim that the manner in which the food is delivered does not guarantee safety, it is benign to assume that those engaging in this business try their best to ensure it is taken care of. Consumers have complained of fast food poorly sealed or other times spilt. There have been those who have claimed to have found that some items ordered were missing from the package.

While it is impossible for consumers to run away from online food vendors, it is possible for them to take precaution and order from reputable brands. Food poisoning is real and can kill. Safety of food is paramount in choosing where and who to purchase it from seeing as everyone is out to make a quick shilling by utilising the unlimited business opportunities brought about by the internet.

It is important that someone takes responsibility in case of inexplicable occurrences arising from food consumption. This also gives investigative agencies the platform from which to conduct investigations should a life be lost due to negligence.

Student, Chartered Institute of Public Relations, London, UK