FDA Summit: Ensuring the Safety of Foods Ordered Online and Delivered Directly to Consumers | Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior (SNEB)

FDA Summit: Ensuring the Safety of Foods Ordered Online and Delivered Directly to Consumers

Posted by: on Monday November 1, 2021

The summit has ended but you can view it online (links to each day is below). AgendaComments/input to FDA can be submitted electronically through November 20, 2021; review existing comments submitted.

Background: Consider that meal kit delivery was introduced in the U.S., Netherlands, Australia and the U.K. in 2012, five years after Sweden’s launch in 2007. Meal kit services have taken off in grocery stores and restaurants. Phil Lempert shares in his overview on Day 1, that the meal kit cost per person has increased from $5 – $10 to $20. Many more food delivery options are available but Lempert asks about their sustainability as it’s estimated that the average online food order that is delivered loses about $10.

**Day 1: recording (5 hours and 45 minutes) Topics: industry practices and standards (representatives from the government as well as retailers included Grubhub, Blue Apron, Wendy’s, Amazon, Kroger, Instacart, Unilever); consumer perspectives on safety (representatives from research, non-profit and a coalition focused on consumer ed); public comments. The overview of trends by Phil Lempert, Supermarket Guru was very informative (begins 31:30); challenges with e-commerce includes eye-opening research conducted in 2011 (begins @ 3:32:44). Study results are summarized.

Takeaways: The 2011 research of meat, poultry, fish and game delivered via major delivery services and the follow-up conversation with the researcher, a non-profit/coalition reflected some troubling observations: Anyone can sell food online…all you need is a website. There is a lot of churn in the online food world…companies come and go. Finding where to lodge a complaint if there is a problem may not be possible. There is no one central registry of vendors selling food online which in some cases means going on social media to do your own detective work. Food safety information may be missing, incorrect or hard-to-find. It is unclear whose responsibility it is to keep food delivered safe to eat – the vendor, the delivery service? According to the research presented, consumers seemed overwhelmingly happy with the safety and quality of the products they received yet 47% of products arrived with a surface temperature above 40 degrees. New technology such as temperature sensors could help but the temperature inside a box doesn’t mean all items are at the same temperature.

**Day 2: recording (4 hours and 37 minutes). Topics: state association and public/private perspectives on e-commerce food safety; FDA and USDA regulatory framework perspectives; public comments. The discussion session of state association and public/private perspectives was very informative (begins @ 1:37:32). The document referenced by Dr. Schaffner can be found by going to (http://www.foodprotect.org/issues/packets/2020Packet/issues/III_004.html), click on ‘guidance document for DtC and TPD Service Food Delivery’ (3) (2019) which takes you to a 40 page PDF. The FDA & USDA regulatory framework session was also informative especially the first section overview of the changing nature of B2C (business to consumer) and D2C (direct to consumer) presented by Dr. Girvin Liggans, FDA CFSAN (begins @ 2:59:22). The National Environmental Health Association YouTube channel has several recent videos on topics such as ghost kitchens, food safety and third party delivery.

Takeaways: The document Dr. Schaffner refers to (guidance document for D2C (direct-to-consumer) and third-party delivery service food delivery) was the work of an intensive and comprehensive 2018-2020 committee.

**Day 3: recording (2 hours and 32 minutes) looks at what is happening internationally and public comments.