June 17, 2024

FDA Releases Guidance Document For Food Delivery Services

The FDA has released a guidance document for food delivery services that is designed to ensure that food ordered online or over the phone is safe to eat. The parameters cover proper packaging, temperature control, verification practices, receiving and storage, and controls for physical contamination and allergen control. The FDA coordinated with the USDA and the CDC to produce this document.

FDA Releases Guidance Document For Food Delivery Services

The New Era of Smarter Food Safety blueprint identified the safety of foods ordered online and delivered directly to consumers as a priority. Since the pandemic there has been a huge increase of food ordered from retailers. The food includes produce and meal-kit subscription services, food from ghost kitchens, grocery stores, and third-party delivery services.

The “last mile” of delivery is one of the vulnerabilities. At this point, temperature control and control of physical contamination is important. Some of the guidance includes using outer packaging as an insulator, or adding a refrigerant system if necessary. It also addresses the potential of cross-contamination, including making sure that wrapping and packaging is not a source of pathogens. The choice of carrier is important as well. And everyone involved in making and delivering food to consumers should be appropriately trained in food safety and food handling.

This guidance recommends best practices for food delivery services; it is not a regulatory document. Food companies are still subject to federal, state, and local food safety statutes and regulations.

There are ways that consumers can protect themselves when receiving food deliveries too, including consideration of the viability of viruses and bacteria on surfaces.

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