What’s Cozy Doesn’t Come Easy

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Heavy snow has visited most of China recently. With warm AC and a cup of hot coffee, together with the snowy scenery, it is not that hard to get through the day, that is, unless you have to grab a bite to eat outside. Fortunately, with the booming development of the online food delivery service in China, you are always just a few clicks away from a decent meal.

As we are all aware, great efforts lie behind the most seemingly simple products. People are so used to ordering food delivery via an app that very few realize the complicated infrastructure on which it is built, including the associated legal and political support.

Food to be Same for Eat-in and Take-out

The defining character of online food delivery is that the customer does not need to be at the restaurant to enjoy their meal. Yet, this is also where the major risk lies; customers may have no knowledge of the caterer’s qualifications and are unable to supervise the site, cooking staff or the production process. We could say you have no idea what you are going to eat.

Measures for the Supervision and Administration of the Safety of Food Offered through Online Catering Services (“Measures”) issued by China FDA has provided corresponding provisions regarding this matter. The Measures clearly stipulate that in order to provide online catering services, providers must have their own physical stores and, more importantly, obtain a food business license in compliance with the according legislation. Besides, providers must carry out the services specified on their own business licenses; any operations deviant to these shall be punished. With this, we can expect that food delivered be cooked just as in the restaurants we used to frequent.

Food to be Delivered in a Clean and Safe Way

Our next concern should be how the food finds its way to us, as it will change hands several times through the delivery staff. We are probably no strangers to annoying circumstances; it could be a late delivery, that you are unhappy with the hygiene of the delivery staff, that the package is not clean or simply that the food suffers so much on the journey that it becomes challenging to look at, not to mention eat.

The Measures clearly require that the catering service platform or the restaurants must strengthen training and management of delivery staff in food safety, and that training records shall be safely kept for at least 2 years. Moreover, delivery staff shall maintain good personal hygiene, use nontoxic and harmless containers to deliver food and check the food to be delivered to ensure it is free from contamination during delivery.

Exercise Caution on Your Doorstep

As a famous joke says, the person who knows you the best is not your parents nor family pet, but the delivery staff. What’s slightly scary about this joke is that this is at least partially true, in so far as we may take our delivery friends for granted to a dangerous degree. To customers they may be just a symbol; we don’t bother to distinguish one from another, but they are also human beings, possessed with the same kindness and weakness. We have all heard the fairy tale about Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf; the pigs would not open the door and defeat the wolf in the end. What if the wolf was dressed as a delivery worker? Surely the ending would be vastly different.

Regarding this matter, the China Council for The Promotion of International Trade has issued Specifications for the Food Delivery Service that stipulate all food delivery staff shall go through identity verification to avoid personnel joining their ranks with malicious intent. In addition, it is clearly forbidden for food delivery staff to enter private real estate or to conduct uncivilised behaviou; demanding tips, attacking the door, etc.

This is but a small fraction of the entitlements we unknowingly at present enjoy; a more detailed knowledge of such can grant us a certain degree of comfort or assistance when encountering irregularities.

Disclaimer

This article is intended solely for informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice. Although the information in this article was obtained from reliable official sources, no guarantee is made with regard to its accuracy and completeness. For more information please visit dandreapartners.com or WeChat: dandreapartners.

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Legal columnist Carlo D’Andrea is Chair of the Legal & Competition Working group of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China; Shanghai Chapter, Coordinator of the Nanjing Working Group of the Italian Chamber of Commerce in China and has taught Chinese law (commercial and contractual) at Rome 3 University. 法律作家代开乐担任中国欧盟商会上海分会法律与竞争工作组主席,中国意大利商会劳动集团的协调员与曾经在罗马三大担任企业咨询课程中中国商法、合同法的课程教授。