World Food Safety Day 2024: How To Order Quality Food Online

Ordering food online has made everyone’s life so easy. You are not in the mood to cook food, open the app, search for your favourite dish, pay for it, and wait for it to get delivered to your doorstep. From pizza to an entire Indian thali, from Chinese to Continental, food aggregator applications are flooded with options that can not only confuse you, but a short session of browsing can make you feel hungry, which ultimately results in ordering a variety of dishes.

With food safety cases rising alarmingly, one can also question how they can determine the quality of food they are ordering online. When you are in a restaurant, you can check the ambience, get a glimpse of the kitchen, whether the utensils are clean, if there are any rats or lizards on the premises, or ask for a replacement if your dish smells stale or funny. You have no way to find out how people are preparing your food when you order online.

There is no way to know if they used clean utensils or stored raw materials in a hygienic refrigerator. Who is responsible for the taste, hygiene, and safety of food that you order online? Can you file a complaint if what you ordered isn’t up to the mark? To answer your queries, Slurrp spoke to Nitin Yadav, a Law Researcher at the High Court of Uttarakhand.

Food Safety Regulations For Restaurants Selling Food Online

Nitin Yadav said that operating any restaurant or cloud kitchen in India requires business owners to comply with a number of laws. Getting an FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) licence is one of the most crucial steps to not only registering the business on delivery platforms but also to build the confidence of the customers.

He added, “A trade or health trade license is necessary for ensuring the standards of health and safety that can be obtained from local municipal corporations of the respective areas after submitting the documents.” This license ensures that the restaurant or cloud kitchen adheres to the cleanliness guidelines mandated by the government authority. A business owner can only obtain this license after a health inspector gives their outlet a clean chit.

Nitin Yadav talked about the Food Safety and Standards Act of 2006 that holds manufacturers, packers, wholesalers, distributors, and sellers liable for non-compliance with food safety standards, including selling expired, misbranded, or unsafe food. Therefore, even if you are ordering from a cloud kitchen, the owner has to abide by the law and maintain the quality of food at all stages. 

Responsibility Of Delivery Platforms To Ensure Food Safety

If you are a consumer, you must know that not just restaurants but delivery platforms are also equally responsible for the safety of food being delivered to your home. Nitin Yadav said that food aggregators and restaurant owners are liable under the Consumer Protection Act of 2019. “Both are treated under the same domain - service provider and seller,” he added

In case of negligence, if the food or beverage is unfit for consumption, the consumer can also file a case under Section 273 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). If the food is adulterated, you can file the case under Section 272 of the IPC. You can call out the restaurant as well as the food aggregator. If tortious liability arises (when someone is injured or suffers a loss due to another person's actions or their negligence), you can also take the case to a civil court.

The expert also added that a consumer can file their complaint with the delivery platform first. If their problem is not resolved, they can reach out to the nearest Consumer Forum.

However, the lawyer said that there is no way that you can know prior about the conditions in which the food is being prepared. He said, “One can ask for FSSAI and other license details from the customer support of the platform.” Nitin Yadav said that the best way to judge a new joint is to check the ratings and read reviews.