On-demand delivery services get ‘okay’ from health department

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — After a KXAN Investigation found on-demand delivery services like UberEATS were operating with little or no oversight from the Austin-Travis County Health Department, health officials now say the companies it examined are following rules to keep food safe.

In January, KXAN obtained information through an open records request showing that the health department was sending letters to eight businesses asking for more information about how they handle and transport food. Those businesses included UberEATS, Demand Food, and Nimble Foods, were the focus of KXAN’s first story about “on-demand” delivery. However, the list also included Blue Apron, Fresh n’ Lean, Home Chef, Hello Fresh and My Table.

Since then, the department has developed best practices and even performed spot checks.

“Our division has investigated a number of companies that were operating in Austin, and through this process we’ve been able to establish that all except for one of those original companies is now in compliance with the food rules,” said Vincent Delisi, the assistant division manager in the environmental health services division of the health department. “We’re satisfied that their processes are providing a safe product.”

The one company that the health department could not verify, My Table, has stopped operating in Austin, Delisi said. The other companies meet the rules currently in place.

The KXAN Investigation also helped lead to new labeling procedures at UberEATS, according to Delisi. He says the department and UberEATS met and agreed that restaurants would place labels with the meals that remain in cars for delivery. Those labels include the time meals should be thrown away. Delisi says UberEATS was already using time controls. However, the new labeling method allows inspectors to ensure the company is following food safety standards.

UberEATS also expanded its service Thursday with a new app. The app offers a new service that goes beyond the near-instant delivery to allow custom ordering from local restaurants.

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