Recognizing the existing regulatory gaps regarding online food sales, the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) has developed a new Food Safety Charter with three of the nation’s largest online food delivery platforms. The charter commits Just Eat, Uber Eats, and Deliveroo to ensuring that the approximate 170,000 businesses selling food through their services are registered with their local authorities and meet a minimum standard under the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme.
Based on an assessment of the potential risks involved in purchasing food online, FSA concluded that food sold online is not a completely unregulated space; however, online sales can decrease consumers’ visibility of businesses providing food, particularly when not buying directly, and food aggregator platforms are likely to be less focused on food safety. Therefore, FSA is focused on supporting local authorities that ensure food businesses are registered and traceable, and educating consumers about possible risks.
FSA has developed relationships with the country’s largest food aggregator platforms to make an immediate impact within the existing regulatory framework. In addition to the registration and minimum standards required by the charter, FSA is developing guidance to help online sales platforms onboard food businesses, which will reduce the burden placed on local authorities. FSA is also engaging with local authorities to understand what challenges they face regarding online food businesses, and will use that information to inform future plans.
The charter also outlines FSA’s intent to use the platforms’ distribution channels to share information from the agency to support couriers and restaurant partners in meeting appropriate food safety and hygiene practices. Finally, FSA will work with restaurant partners and third-party groups to protect consumers with food hypersensitivities.FSA will continue to work on building a best practice framework for businesses facilitating online food sales. The agency will also make efforts to identify actions that may need to be taken across other sectors within the online environment.