MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Getting your dinner delivered to you can be convenient — but an undercover investigation could leave a bad taste in your mouth.
It’s video that can make someone quickly lose their appetite: Delivery drivers sticking their hands into bags of food meant for their customer.
CBS LA’s David Goldstein, along with undercover cameras, caught drivers in the act. Two drivers were seen grabbing what appears to be a few French fries directly from the bag while sitting in the front seat of their cars. Another driver is caught cleaning his floor mats in between deliveries.
The drivers don’t work for the restaurants. They work for delivery platforms such as Uber Eats, Grubhub and Postmates — just three examples in a booming industry that is not regulated by county or state health departments.
“We don’t consider that part of the restaurant business portion at all,” said Kim Karlton, environmental health supervisor with the Minnesota Department of Health. “You’re hiring a third-party company to essentially pick up your food and deliver it to you. That’s a completely separate entity.”
Delivery drivers who are employees of a restaurant, such as your typical pizza delivery driver, do fall under the current health regulations which prohibits tampering, or simply touching, ready-to-eat food.
A recent survey involving 500 delivery drivers from Uber Eats, Grubhub, DoorDash and Postmates found 28% admit to sometimes eating a customer’s food.
According to Uber Eats’s policy, drivers are directed not to tamper with or open packages during a delivery since it’s a food safety risk. The company encourages restaurants to seal food in tamper-proof packaging ahead of delivery.
Bite Squad, another delivery platform, has its own regulations. Drivers are actual employees of the company, whereas other delivery services often use contractors. In a statement, Bite Squad said its drivers, “are trained to not open food containers, and we have a zero tolerance policy for food tampering.”
The company is also testing out tamper-proof seals by giving them to restaurants in 11 markets, such as Minneapolis. Similar to a sticker, it seals a to-go package on Bite Squad orders.
Minnesota’s health department supports Bite Squad’s effort.
“The business model is to protect their business and protect their brand, and that’s a great way to do it,” Karlton said.
While the industry remains unregulated, Karlton said it’s possible changes could happen in the future.
“This is something that’s being discussed at a national level,” she said. “If there are best practices that are coming out of these conversations, it is something that Minnesota is going to be looking at in terms of how to regulate these, if we should regulate these, and what the industry really wants us to do.”
If you feel your food has been tampered with, the delivery companies want customers to contact them about it. Karlton said the state wants customers to contact them so they can better track complaints related to this issue.
“They should also probably report it to the restaurant that they’ve gotten the food from so the restaurant is aware of it,” she said.