How food delivery companies keep delivery bags clean

Foodpanda rider Mohamad Azli, 41, shows his delivery bag, which is cleaned and wiped down daily.
Foodpanda rider Mohamad Azli, 41, shows his delivery bag, which is cleaned and wiped down daily.ST PHOTO: SONG TAO

These days, the plethora of sites such as honestbee, foodpanda, GrabFood and Deliveroo means people are spoilt for choice when it comes to food delivery.

But with the increase in such services, consumers are starting to raise concerns about the cleanliness of the delivery process.

Administrative assistant Subadra Lingam, 26, who often orders food for her colleagues at the consultancy firm where she works, says she is particularly careful about ordering only from restaurants and service providers that deliver food quickly and package it carefully to prevent spillage.

"Even though the food is individually packed, it can be unhygienic if it sits in the insulated delivery bag for too long - especially if you are ordering a salad or sushi, which can spoil quickly," she says. "It's worse if something has spilled in the bag, as the food can then become unsanitary to eat."

Most delivery providers The Sunday Times reached out to said that keeping their delivery process efficient and sanitary is their top priority.

Mr Luc Andreani, managing director of foodpanda Singapore, says the algorithm on its backend accounts for things such as "bag time", which factors in how long the food will stay in its packaging before being served to customers.

"To ensure our food is delivered fresh, we try and keep bag time at between five and 20 minutes, at the maximum, so it is delivered in an optimum condition to customers," he adds. "Our insulated bags are also designed with adjustable velcro compartments to prevent food from moving around during the delivery."

The bags most delivery companies use are designed with halal and non-halal compartments to keep food separate. Most are also designed to store both hot and cold food.

 

Another hygiene concern is the possibility of mould and mildew caused by condensation of steam in the bags, says Mr Jeffery Chan, 66, a freelance consultant in industrial and chemical cleaning.

"If they are not dried before use, they can also develop a musty odour," he adds.

To prevent this, delivery companies ensure the bags used by their delivery riders are cleaned and wiped down daily with sanitiser or washing liquid. Bags are also inspected on a quarterly basis and replaced when they show signs of wear and tear, usually within six months.

Mr Siddharth Shanker, general manager of Deliveroo Singapore, says: "We brief our riders on the food delivery process, and part of this involves guidance on packing food into the bags. During these sessions, we reinforce the importance of keeping their equipment clean at all times, and riders taking responsibility for the upkeep of their delivery bags."

In the event of food spillage, an honestbee spokesman said the driver is expected to inform the coordinator so the merchant partner can prepare a replacement.

The rider is also put on a break so he does not have to do deliveries with a messy bag.

She says: "Our coordinator assigns recovery orders to another rider instead, which gives the current rider time to clean his bag thoroughly before handling the next order."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 29, 2018, with the headline 'Food deliveries come clean'. Print Edition | Subscribe