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California Governor Gavin Newsome recently signed into law a new set of safety standards for third-party food delivery applications, including sanitation and temperature standards.
AB-3336 defines a “third-party food delivery platform” as a “business engaged in the service of online food ordering and delivery from a food facility to a consumer.” It requires ready-to-eat food delivered through a third-party food delivery platform to be transported in a manner in which the ready-to-eat food is protected from contamination.
Written by Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo (D-Los Angeles), the bill was signed into law on Sep. 1.
Though the standards set in this bill are consistent with the requirements for restaurants and stores, it’s the first time that third-party food delivery applications have expressly and independently been required to follow them as well.
The law is codified at Section 113930.5 to the Health and Safety Code, which deals specifically with the transportation of food and which applies only to third-party food delivery platforms. AB-3336 requires all bags and/or containers that are delivered by third-party food delivery apps be sealed by the restaurant before they are handed off to the delivery person. Moreover, food holding areas must meet sanitation standards, and food must be maintained at a temperature necessary to prevent spoilage.
Also, AB-3336 allows enforcement officers to penalize food delivery apps for violations of the law. It only applies to third-party delivery apps, and excludes grocery stores and restaurants, which are already subject to regulation by public health requirements. It also does not apply to food being donated as part of a charitable program. A person who violates any provision of the code may be subject to criminal prosecution for a misdemeanor offense.
It’s no secret that due to the coronavirus pandemic, food delivery companies like Postmates, DoorDash, and Uber Eats grew immensely in popularity and revenue. Reportedly, nearly 58% of all restaurant delivery sales in the U.S. are being made on these apps, and it’s expected to reach 70% by 2022. Moreover, DoorDash, Uber Eats, and Postmates are the most popular food delivery services in California.
The new law is set to become active on Jan. 1st. Another similar law going into effect on the same date is AB 2149. Authored by Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), the Fair Food Delivery Act will require the food delivery services to only list a restaurant on their platform with expressed permission from the restaurant owner and to share certain information about who is ordering.
Customers on apps like DoorDash can currently order from “non-partner” merchants, which are restaurants that do not have agreements with the delivery app. If a restaurant wants to be removed from the app, the process could take up to 72 hours, but some have reportedly said it takes months. Moreover, all information about people placing orders stays with the app and is not shared with the restaurant. That could mean that a restaurant doesn’t learn valuable information that could lead to the growth of their business, like what neighborhoods their loyal customers live in, or how well the packaging they use to box up food holds up until it’s delivered to the customer’s door.