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A look into the growing food delivery industry

By Nakisha Rigley, KSL | Posted - Apr. 3, 2019 at 4:40 p.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY — So many of us love the convenience and ease the food delivery craze has brought us. There's no cooking, no cleanup and no driving involved.

While food delivery isn't new — we've been getting pizzas delivered to our doorsteps for decades — it's expanded into a whole different world with some potential risks.

We trust our meals in the hands of fast-food and restaurant workers often, but we also know they have supervisors and training to ensure safety and proper handling. So how safe is unsupervised food delivery?

For instance, when it comes to food handlers permits, none of the delivery services we surveyed listed this as a must-do. So, if those are not required, what is expected of the drivers who bring meals to your doorstep?

Let's take a deeper look into the three of the most popular delivery services: Doordash, Uber Eats and Grubhub. In our three-part series, we'll examine the driver requirements, safety requirements and economic impacts of food delivery service.

Doordash

Doordash took off in 2013 and has since gained its footing in the marketplace. It recently became a “unicorn company,” reaching a valuation of over $4 billion this year, according to CB Insights' market map of the world’s 310 startup companies that are valued at over $1 billion.

What we know about its drivers: All Doordash drivers should be 18 or older, pass a background check and have a valid driver’s license and insurance, according to the Doordash website. Of course, a smartphone is also necessary for any of these delivery jobs so drivers can use the application.

Although there are some training videos available online, there is no indication that drivers have to view the material before they get “dashing.” Doordash did not respond to a request for clarification on this matter.

Per its Independent Contractor Agreement, a contractor “is solely responsible for ensuring that the vehicle used conforms to all vehicle laws pertaining to safety, equipment, inspection and operational capability."

How they keep your food warm: The USDA website explains that in order for hot food to stay safe, it needs to stay at 140 degrees Fahrenheit or hotter, and cold food must be kept at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below.

Food starts to become unsafe when left at room temperature for longer than two hours, or one hour in air temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Using insulated delivery bags can help keep these foods at the correct temperature.

The help center webpage for Doordash says drivers will receive an insulated bag and foil blanket to deliver food at quality temperatures.

They recommend using the bags and note that some restaurants may require drivers to bring an insulated bag to carry their food.

When we emailed to ask if the company has a rule requiring drivers to use the provided insulated bag, they did not respond.

Quality Control

Still, when it comes to overall quality control, it's also up to restaurants to make sure their food travels well, stays fresh and keeps its proper temperature. And some have taken matters into their own hands to do so.

In a 2015 lawsuit, popular burger chain In-N-Out Burger claimed they were placed on the Doordash website without permission. It also stated the chain had "no control over the time it takes (DoorDash) to deliver (In-N-Out)'s goods to consumers, or over the temperature at which the goods are kept during delivery, nor over the food handling and safety practices of (DoorDash)'s delivery drivers,” according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit was later dropped by In-N-Out.

In-N-Out Burger isn’t the only chain that doesn’t want to take part in the new food delivery app craze. Last month, popular national sandwich chain Jimmy John’s came out with a new marketing campaign that focuses on its vow to never use third-party delivery apps like Grubhub, Doordash, or Uber Eats, as reported by The Verge.

Its homepage opens with changing headers that say, “Only Jimmy John’s delivers Jimmy John’s,” and “We don’t outsource bread baking, vegetable slicing, sandwich making, or DELIVERY.”

To back up its reasoning for not joining third-party delivery services, Jimmy John’s cited research from a Technomic study, which says that “even if restaurants have a formal agreement with third-party ordering portals and delivery services, the majority of consumers (76 percent) hold the restaurant at least partially responsible for any errors.”

A study by the Service Management Group found that “35 percent of customers who use these services experience a problem, and nearly half of them blame the restaurant for that problem.” They added, “So if you don’t have an air-tight third-party strategy in place, you risk disappointing customers and damaging your brand.”

President and CEO of Jimmy John’s, James North, told the Associated Press last month that “With Uber Eats, the drivers have no vested interest in getting the customer their food quickly.”

What customers are saying: Doordash has received an F rating from the Better Business Bureau. As of Wednesday, it had 855 total complaints in a three-year period, with 470 of them unanswered by the company. The majority of complaints were in the category of “problems with a product or service."

Interestingly, the opposite is true with its employees who have given the company a lot of love on its webpage at Glassdoor.com, a popular site where people can leave reviews about their jobs. Doordash currently has a 3.8-star rating from more than 1,000 reviews. Nakisha Rigley is currently a junior at Weber State University majoring in public relations and interning as a news writer with KSL.com.

Nakisha Rigley

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