During a review of e-Commerce food platforms, the FSSAI has detected that that as many as 30 to 40% of restaurants listed on these e-Commerce websites did not have the details of the FSSAI license or registration. In fact, some of the restaurants had not even obtained the licence themselves. As per conditions of the license, such e-Commerce platform could only list restaurants that have direct FSSAI license or registration.
After receiving consumer complaints of sub-standard food being served through some of the e-commerce platforms, the FSSAI had directed leading e-Commerce Food Service Providers like Swiggy, Zomato, Foodpanda, UberEats, and others to de-list any non-FSSAI licensed food business from their platform by 31st July 2018. The aggregators had also been advised to display FSSAI license number on their platform along with the name and location of the listed restaurants.
In a review meeting held on 1 August 2018, the FSSAI found that some of the leading food aggregators were also operating without FSSAI License or registration. Further, it was noted by the Apex Food Regulator that more than 30-40% of the food businesses listed by these e-Commerce aggregators are unlicensed or unregistered. In many cases, the listed food businesses have only recently applied for FSSAI License/Registration but have not obtained those and so do not possess any licence/registration.
The FSSAI has given a time of two-weeks to these food aggregators/ e-Commerce food platforms to submit an action plan to de-list un-licensed/un-registered food businesses. The aggregators were also advised to promote food safety and hygiene amongst the listed food businesses through the services of food safety supervisors. The aggregators were asked to also encourage the listed food businesses to comply with Good Hygiene Practices (GHP) and display ‘Food Safety Boards’ on their premises.
The FSSAI has also decided to conduct an audit of the IT platforms of these e-Commerce food aggregators for compliance of food safety and hygiene under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 along with Food Safety (Licensing and Registration) Regulations, 2011. FSSAI CEO, Pawan Agarwal in his statement has pointed out that this action on e-Commerce food platforms is part of the special drive being conducted by the food regulator to bring all food businesses under the FSSAI licensing regime and ensure compliance of the food safety laws.
The FSSAI had just recently notified the regulations to bring e-commerce aggregator food platforms within the purview of the food safety laws. The FSSAI is hopeful that these platforms will henceforth take food safety seriously from a regulatory point of view. Pawan Agarwal also appealed to these aggregators to begin to use some of their resources in food safety training and capacity building of listed restaurants so as to improve overall food safety and hygiene, rather than merely focusing on deep discounts and aggressive marketing. Listed food businesses that provide safe food would be able to build consumer traction to their respective platforms. He hoped that the investors of the platforms will take note of this.