Two food delivery services in Guangzhou, China may have been operating under grossly unsanitary conditions, a newspaper has uncovered.
Local paper New Express has claimed that the Tencent-backed Ele.me and Alibaba-supported Meituan, two competing major food delivery apps in the city, do not have strict standards in checking the quality of the vendors that prepare and provide their food.
According to the paper’s investigation, obtaining a food license to operate as a food provider is very easy, SCMP reports.
They discovered existing partners whose actual registered address was a car park instead of a real restaurant. The food may have been prepared in the most unhygienic place and the customer would have no idea — unless a trip to the hospital reveals otherwise.
The report included photos showing food being prepared just right next to the toilet and raw food in the same vicinity of dirty water.
Such vendors are reportedly registered through the aid of intermediary parties.
The New Express team was even able to successfully apply for a license as a food provider despite giving the address of a public toilet. The findings also revealed that the common practice involved a prospective vendor merely paying a fee of 680 yuan (about $100) and submitting personal identification to third party companies.
This system allowed the vendors to register without a hitch. To get the required food license to sell food through the apps, vendors just need to add additional payment and the company will do it for them.
Although site inspections are required by the apps before food vendors were added, a “red packet” containing 200 yuan ($29) handed under the table is usually enough to convince the inspection staff to pass the vendors.
“I sometimes tell customers not to order from the restaurants anymore when I hand them the food because I saw how their food was made,” a delivery man, identified only as Quan, was quoted as saying.
Amid the report, the Guangdong Food and Drug Administration have expressed commitment to improving the validation processes of the food providers.