The popularity of food delivery services like DoorDash, Uber Eats and Skip the Dishes has exploded since the beginning of the pandemic, allowing customers to enjoy their favourite food and beverages from the safety of their home and ensuring that food service businesses can continue serving the public even in the midst of lockdowns. These services are convenient for all parties, but concerns about food safety have always existed regarding them - something that has become especially prevalent since the emergence of COVID-19 last year.
These valid food safety concerns need to be addressed in order to give your patrons peace of mind and encourage them to continue ordering from your establishment - even a minor mistake on the part of a food delivery service can reflect poorly on your business. Ensuring that food delivery services are taking the health and safety of your customers seriously is critical during these unpredictable times, and will continue to be an important responsibility of your business for many years to come.
Measures protecting staff and customers must be adhered to
While your food service business likely has strict measures in place to protect staff and patrons from the threat of COVID-19, it can be difficult to control people outside of your organization like delivery drivers. In order to ensure that everybody is kept safe, it’s extremely important to implement and enforce strict face mask practices - every driver who enters your establishment, whether for one minute or 30, must be made to wear a mask. If your business has access to them, offer high quality disposable masks to drivers, as they may be more effective than reusable cloth masks or cheap disposable ones.
If possible, it’s recommended that you encourage drivers to use hand sanitizer and/or disposable gloves before handling any packaging - this will greatly reduce the risk of cross contamination and will ensure all parties that the package is safe for handling. If offering gloves, remember to provide drivers with a way to dispose of them between deliveries or after handling packaging. Providing drivers with cleaning solutions or sanitizing solutions to apply to insulated bags and coolers can also act as another way to reduce the spread of particles, though this is something of an above and beyond example of protecting your staff, customers, and delivery drivers.
Double checking orders and tamper-proof packaging
Nobody wants to receive a bad review, which is exactly what will happen if a customer’s order is incorrect. To reduce the chances of receiving a bad review, delivery drivers frequently open packaging to ensure the accuracy of a customer’s order prior to its delivery. While this proactive measure is certainly well intentioned, it presents a food safety risk for customers and makes the business appear unprofessional. In order to avoid this common issue, it’s necessary for your business to double check each and every order before it’s picked up by delivery drivers to ensure its accuracy.
This double-checking needs to be relayed to all delivery drivers to deter them from opening packaging, and measures should be taken to make opening packaging more difficult. This can mean using stickers on packaging with clear directions to the driver or stapling bags closed to deter drivers from opening packaging. Many restaurants staple a receipt to the exterior packaging, which is an effective measure which can also be used to stress to drivers (and customers) that the package has been verified for accuracy. While these measures don’t make it impossible for drivers to open packaging, it will deter the vast majority of instances and give everybody peace of mind.
Communicate to customers about the measures being taken
When it comes to maintaining customer trust, communication is everything. Use your social media channels and website to tell customers exactly how you’re protecting them, especially when using external delivery services. If you’ve put special cleaning and sanitization measures into effect, explain how they work and how they’ve been designed to improve safety.
This should also be done for measures taken to ensure that drivers are handling packaging safely, including checking for order accuracy, offering masks, gloves and hand sanitizer, and working with delivery services to ensure that customers, staff members, and delivery drivers are kept safe at all times. When something changes, remember to communicate these changes with customers - having outdated safety protocols on your website or social media page can look bad, especially if customers can directly observe different measures being used.
Ultimately, the only sure way to control food safety from preparation to delivery is to offer in-house delivery services to your customers. While this might seem like a herculean effort at first, the cost savings alone will make it more than worthwhile. Handling your own delivery allows you to avoid third-party contractors to ensure your drivers are following pandemic measures and general food safety procedures, making it possible to give your customers complete peace of mind and confidence throughout the remainder of the pandemic and long after it has finally subsided.
FoodSafetyMarket is a leading provider of online food safety training, food safety resources, and so much more. To find out how you and your team of food handlers can receive engaging and informative online training, get in touch with us today at firstname.lastname@example.org.