Regulate food deliveries to avoid health problems

Sunday, December 22nd, 2019 18:05 |
Food deliveries. Photo/Courtesy

Simon Mwangi 

The advent of mobile food delivery services in Kenya is giving restaurants a run for their money.

The middle and upper class are no longer interested in sitting in restaurants and prefer ordering 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 delivered 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.

Unfortunately given the sensitive nature of the food industry, 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 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 (DPH) 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?

To start a physical food business in Nairobi, one needs various permits which are issued by the county government.

They include  a business permit, food/health related permit and fire safety certificate. 

Recently the Nairobi County government announced plans to consolidate all these under a unified business permit which will cost around 50,000 shillings 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 normal requirements for establishing an online shop, there is scanty information as to additional safeguards in the registration of an online food vending business.

From the trends currently being witnessed in the country, 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 that fast food delivered by riders are sometimes improperly sealed or 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. 

Unfortunately food poisoning is real and can kill. Safety of food is paramount in choosing where and who to purchase it from given that everyone is out to make a quick shilling through utilising the unlimited business opportunities brought about by the internet.

Accordingly, 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. — The writer is a student, Chartered Institute of Public Relations, London, UK

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