Exploring Food Safety and Occupational Behaviors Among Platform-to-Consumer Online Food Delivery Couriers
In the digital age, consumers have the opportunity to utilize new channels when making purchasing decisions. In the restaurant industry, one of these new channels is online food delivery (OFD), wherein guests order food from restaurants via mobile applications such as DoorDash, UberEats, and Grubhub. The food these customers order is delivered by couriers, who in the industry function as independent contractors and are able to perform deliveries on their own schedules. The global OFD industry recorded nearly $31 billion USD in sales in 2018, up from $26 billion in 2014. As this industry has grown, food safety experts have been cognizant of the potential public health risks associated with OFD. Sources report that, in isolated incidents, drivers associated with the most prominent delivery platforms have been witnessed touching ready-to-eat food with their bare hands, stealing food, and intentionally tampering with food. While some food delivery outlets such as caterers face regulation that requires specialized procedures for the temperature control of time and temperature control for safety foods, delivery companies generally are not. There is little research on the food safety behaviors of OFD deliverers, which is cause for concern as consumers become increasingly aware of foodborne illness outbreaks in the foodservice industry. This study aims to tackle this perceived gap in the scientific literature by performing a food safety knowledge and behavior survey using online food delivery drivers as subjects and conducting exploratory qualitative analysis of structured interviews with experienced OFD deliverers.