Over the past few years, the online food ordering business has turned into a multi-million dollar industry. Due to the ease of access because everyone has a smart phone to the ability to order any kind of food; the time to sit at home and have food delivered to you has never been easier.
As with any type of online delivery service, problems and complications arise. This is especially true when we are talking about food. While we have a few minutes together, I want us to discuss some of the issues surrounding online food ordering and what we can do about it. While I understand the concept of online food ordering, honestly I am not a fan. Call me a purest but I enjoy cooking.
In 2018, a salmonella outbreak in Shenzhen, China prompted researchers to understand not only what happened but if there was anything that could be done to prevent it from happening again. Whenever there is an outbreak, it is good to know that health officials are behind the scenes, working hard to figure out what happened and how they can make it safer.
What the researchers found was that all of the food poisoning sufferers, beside from all being university students, had ordered food from the same place using their online ordering application. Kicking the investigation into high gear, the researchers took samples and talked to the individuals involved to determine a time from and what menu items were eaten.
People get food poisoning, which is a fact of life. It is possible for multiple people to eat at the same restaurant and show symptoms. What worried health officials and researchers were now there was a different, much “easier” way for bacteria to spread than before. Online food ordering now added to the mix. As if dangerous bacteria and the possibility of it spreading inside of a restaurant wasn’t bad enough.
The concerns echoed in the researcher’s conclusion should be an ever constant worry: “In contrast to traditional restaurant dining, online food delivery could send potentially contaminated food across wide geographic areas throughout a city within a short time to cause large-scale outbreaks. Online food delivery also poses additional food safety risks, including improper handling and storage temperature during transportation. As illustrated in this outbreak, the total time elapsed was 2 hours from food preparation to delivery at ambient temperature, potentially enabling Salmonella Enteritidis to sufficiently multiply and cause illnesses.”
Unfortunately, when ordering online, there is a lot of prevention that is out of your control. You are relying on someone else to cook your food properly, keep the food in a container, keep it at a desired temperature, and deliver it to your house in time. Let’s look at online ordering in contrast to cooking at home.
One of the easiest ways germs spread is by touch. And the easiest way to stop the spread of germs is by washing your hands. While this seems easy, we are all guilty of not washing our hands when we should. A few of the harder to remember times include:
- After touching an animal, especially reptiles.
- After touching garbage.
- After handing pet food and pet treats.
- Before and after treating a wound.
I try to keep it in the front of my mind that anytime I do anything that has the potential to add germs to my hands, I wash them. While this seems like a lot of hand washing, when you consider the amount of time it takes – is it really worth it to not?
Symptoms of Salmonella
Here are some of the more prevalent symptoms when you have Salmonella:
- Stomach Cramps
When we see what can happen if we don’t wash our hands it becomes clear which one is best. As I said earlier, there are other factors involved, some we can control while others we cannot.
Another area we can control is preparing our food. Let’s touch on that real quick:
Make sure your hands, counter tops, utensils, and anything else used to prepare food is washed.
Keep food apart to avoid cross-contamination.
By cooking food to the correct temperature we can ensure bacteria is removed.
Store food separately and right after eating to avoid bacteria growing in the refrigerator.
If you are unfamiliar with these tips, you can read more about it from the CDC. By using these simple tips we can greatly improve our chances of staying safe.
Over the past few years, while the online food ordering industry has flourished, restaurants have witnessed a steady decline in customers. According to recent statistics, it seems we are not going to see a decline in online food ordering anytime soon:
- 60% of U.S. consumers order delivery or takeout once a week.
- 31% say they use these third-party delivery services at least twice a week.
- Digital ordering and delivery have grown 300% faster than dine-in traffic since 2014.
- 57% of millennials say that they have restaurant food delivered so they can watch movies and TV shows at home.
COVID-19 changes everything when it comes to online ordering. Staying home is not only safer but in some instances the only way to eat from a restaurant whose doors are closed.
If I could offer one piece of admonition it would be this: be mindful of the dangers that surround online food ordering. Understand what the restaurant or online company is doing to insure the freshness and safety of the food you order. It is perfectly acceptable to ask questions if you do not understand their procedures.
Also, when your food arrives, DO NOT just dive right in. Take a moment to inspect your food. Use your senses and something looks wrong or smells off, do not eat it. Again, speaking out is the right course of action: call the place where your meal came from and explain to them why you are calling. It is better to delay dinner a little longer until new food can arrive than to end up with food poisoning with Salmonella Online Ordering.