Health alert over takeaways as it emerges many use 'dark kitchens'
Health alert over online takeaways as it emerges many use unregulated ‘dark’ kitchens using staff with no training in food hygiene or allergies
- Takeaways like McDonald’s set up ‘dark kitchens’ which don’t have a restaurant
- Some operate by people without training and offer no allergen information
- The businesses are selling through social media such as Facebook Marketplace
- Food Standards Agency said 2.4 million people fall ill from eating tainted food
- Of 380,000 food-borne illnesses, nearly two thirds are linked to takeaways
Watchdogs are warning of a new health threat posed by ‘dark kitchens’ selling takeout food online.
People without training in hygiene or allergies are selling through social media such as Facebook Marketplace.
They are tapping into a growing appetite for home delivery that was started by Deliveroo, Just Eat and Uber Eats.
Ready meal: Watchdogs are warning of a new ‘health threat’ as businesses are using ‘dark kitchens’, which do not have an attached restaurant, and use untrained staff to sell takeaway food online. Pictured is one cabin turned kitchen – tapping into a growing appetite for home delivery that was started by Deliveroo, Just Eat and Uber Eats
So great is the explosion in demand that even major businesses such as McDonald’s have set up ‘dark kitchens’, which do not have a restaurant attached and operate from trading estates.
While these are legitimate and well policed, others are operated out of home kitchens by people with no training. Curries, pasta dishes and party food made in home kitchens are being sold without clear information on ingredients, which is risky for allergy sufferers.
The Food Standards Agency has put Facebook on notice that it expects food sold through its services to be policed correctly. Last week the FSA said the number of people who fall ill from eating tainted food was 2.4million.
A total of 380,000 food-borne illnesses a year are caused by the winter vomiting bug norovirus – with almost two thirds linked to eating out or takeaway meals. Food businesses are required to register with their local council for hygiene and standards, receiving a rating from zero to five.
There are fears that some businesses, which score badly on hygiene, have sold food through the major delivery services without declaring this to customers.
Just Eat is now displaying hygiene ratings and all new services must score three or above. UberEats also displays ratings.
Just Eat is now displaying hygiene ratings and all new services must score three or above, amid fears that some businesses, which score badly on hygiene, have sold food through the major delivery services
The FSA’s head of regulatory compliance, Michael Jackson, said the watchdog is speaking to Facebook about consumer protection.
‘Everyone involved in online marketplace selling must meet their responsibilities to ensure food is safe and what it says it is,’ he said. ‘Anyone selling food online on an organised basis must be registered as a food business with their local authority.
‘Our advice when ordering food online is to check the business has a food hygiene rating and choose only a rating of three or above.’ Cuts in council funding mean standards and hygiene checks have been cut, with the number of council food standards staff falling by 45 per cent between 2012-13 and 2017-18. Just 37 per cent of standards checks – designed to ensure food is what it says it is – were carried out in 2017-18.
There was also a 13 per cent fall in hygiene inspectors.
Of the 380,000 food-borne illnesses per year, nearly two thirds are linked to takeaways (file image) or eating out, says FSA figures. The FSA’s head of regulatory compliance, Michael Jackson, said the watchdog is speaking to Facebook about consumer protection
Councillor Simon Blackburn, chairman of the Local Government Association’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said: ‘Significant funding pressures make it extremely difficult for some councils to maintain previous levels of food work.
‘There is a pressing need for Government to come up with a sustainable funding model for food regulation’
Facebook Marketplace allows users to post free advertisements to sell a range of goods. Facebook said: ‘Sellers must comply with all applicable laws and regulations.’
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