A food delivery driver is driving deliveries to customers ordering food online in a busy capital city, Impact of epidemics

The food safety risk of food delivery during the pandemic

The Global University Network has investigated the food safety risk of online food delivery platforms in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic in Taiwan.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic and confinement policies, the demand for online shopping and food delivery services has risen exponentially worldwide. This fact brought to light that there is no deep exploration of food safety delivered in this way.

However, researchers in Taiwan have investigated the food safety literacy of both consumers and owners of online food delivery services during the pandemic in Taiwan.

In this Asian country, online food delivery services were so widespread that about 56 percent of the population used these services during the pandemic. Food delivery services offer a wide variety of food, from fruits and vegetables to snacks and cooked meals, which can pose a risk if they do not maintain adequate hygiene and temperature control during transport and preparation.

A team of researchers, led by Professor Hsiu-Ling Chen of National Cheng Kung University, investigated the potential food safety risk of using online food delivery platforms during the COVID-19 pandemic in Taiwan. They conducted a cross-sectional study with data on demographic characteristics, habits around the use of online food delivery services, and food safety literacy of 367 consumers and 122 delivery persons.

The researchers discovered the main reasons why food platforms are growing. The main reason is convenience, followed by reducing the risk of contracting COVID-19 and attractive offers. They also found that the most frequently ordered foods were hot cooked rice or noodles, hand-shaken beverages, and hot cooked meat. 

“A key finding of our study is that, in general, consumers’ food safety literacy is very good; however, literacy about the temperature of food received and the recording temperature of food needs to be strengthened, especially in the 21-30 age group,” says Professor Chen.

From the food delivery staff data, the researchers found that about 30 percent of them made 16 to 20 deliveries a day. Half of the food delivery personnel used alcohol to clean food delivery boxes. After the COVID-19 pandemic began, there was an 18 percent increase in food delivery personnel who cleaned the boxes 2 to 4 times a day.

The findings indicated that the overall food safety literacy of food delivery personnel was good. However, there were lower scores on meal temperature knowledge.

This information helped to make recommendations on the food safety risk of online food delivery services. The most important was for online food delivery companies to incorporate temperature monitoring equipment inside their delivery boxes or provide a thermometer to check the temperature of the food. Another way to maintain food temperature would be to separate hot and cold foods inside the delivery box with a separator. The second recommendation is to improve the quality of leak-proof packaging.

News Desk. (2023c, February 2nd). Evaluating the food safety risk of online food delivery during the pandemic. Food Safety News. https://www.foodsafetynews.com/2023/02/evaluating-the-food-safety-risk-of-online-food-delivery-during-the-pandemic/

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