Food Safety Conference Explores Online Food Delivery Trends

Thursday, 17 November 2022

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland’s (FSAI) Food Safety Consultative Council today hosted an open meeting to discuss online sales of food, from the consumer, the regulator and the industry’s perspectives. Click and eat - what’s cooking in online food delivery? also explored the rapid development in the availability of food delivery options available since the COVID-19 pandemic and highlighted the importance of securing consumers’ trust that food hygiene practices and food safety legislation are being adhered too, regardless of the journey food may take to reach the consumer. Over 240 people registered for the virtual event with Irish and international speakers from the FSAI and representatives from Deliveroo, Manna Drone Delivery, and Dropchef.

Recent research* carried out by the FSAI showed that 60% of consumers surveyed trust that the food they buy/order online from grocery food shops and takeaways is safe to eat, with 35% trusting that the food is safe to eat from online shopper services and 21% from social media pages/groups.

COVID-19 saw the emergence of new shopping trends, and the research also shows almost 2 in 5 (37%) have ordered food online from a supermarket or other retail outlets, with over 3 in 5 of these respondents claiming to use the service at least once a month. Meanwhile, convenience is key for those opting to order a takeaway online, with 4 in 5 claiming this to be the number one reason.

Chaired by Suzanne Campbell, Author and Journalist, the event also offered insights into the impact technology continues to have on the food journey process, as the traditional model of consumers travelling to restaurants, shops or supermarkets is now joined by many food businesses using social media, websites, online marketplaces and apps to meet consumer demands.

Dr Pamela Byrne, Chief Executive, FSAI, outlined the importance of food safety remaining front and centre of the food journey, regardless of advances in technology or delivery methods.

    “Although consumers have more choices and convenience options than ever before, they are also being asked to place a higher level of trust in operators when they order food online. There must be a steadfast trust that all those involved in supplying, producing, marketing and delivering will adhere to the highest standards of food safety and hygiene on an ongoing basis. Quite simply, consumers have a right to safe food no matter where they buy it from. While this is undoubtedly an exciting time for innovation with huge opportunities to use technology to grow food businesses and offer new production, preparation and delivery models, those opportunities also bring operational, regulatory and food safety challenges. At the FSAI, we continue to explore ways in which we can evolve our regulatory approach, to improve transparency for consumers to support them in making informed choices, and work with businesses with the common goal of ensuring safe and trustworthy food.”

The open meeting offered members of the public and food businesses an opportunity to engage with the FSAI directly, a point highlighted by Ray Bowe, Chair, Food Safety Consultative Council.

    “The Food Safety Consultative Council always aims to discuss topics that are key in the day-to-day lives of people. In recent years, we have seen the behaviours of consumers altered by the COVID-19 pandemic. For many, these changes in how they purchase food have outlasted the restrictions that were in place and new habits have formed thanks to innovative uses of technology by many businesses. Yet, we continue to call on all those who play a role in the journey of food – including consumers – to remain aware of the importance of food safety and hygiene. Ultimately, this is the greatest method to protect consumers health.”

Contributions on the day included Dr Pamela Byrne, Chief Executive, FSAI; Ray Bowe Chair, Food Safety Consultative Council; Sinéad Murphy, Senior Technical Executive, FSAI, Thomas Winders, Senior Policy Advisor, Deliveroo; Liang Feng, Commercial Operations Lead, Manna Drone Delivery and Roman Grogan, Co-founder, Dropchef.