Food delivery has become a necessity in the time of COVID-19. Disturbingly, before the pandemic began, somewhere between 25% and 30% of food delivery drivers admit to stealing or sampling the food they delivered. While food safety and sanitation has always been a concern, the pandemic has heightened those concerns.
While the FDA has stated that there is no evidence that food or food packaging has need linked to transmission of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, people on the receiving end of deliveries understandably worry about the person delivering their food. That’s why restaurants have implemented additional sanitation procedures and suppled their drivers with gloves and masks. Some of the best ways restaurants prevent food tampering are the simplest.
Make Tampering Obvious
Restaurants have begun applying sticky labels to close clamshell boxes and seal paper bags. The labels are handy for keeping containers closed, and they can carry the restaurant’s branding. While it’s unlikely, it is possible that a delivery driver could peel back a label and reseal it without leaving evidence of tampering. The best ways to prevent food tampering are ones that make tampering obvious. Some restaurants are resorting to clear packaging to further reveal signs of tampering.
If a restaurant chooses a label to seal packaging, they should test it on all the boxes and bags that will carry food to its destination. The sticker should create obvious damage to packaging if someone tries to remove it. The likelihood of discovery should serve as a deterrent to food service workers who try to sample the meals they prepare and deliver.
A Simple, Low-Cost Solution
Carefully applied staples are an easy fix to prevent food tampering. Unlike with labels or tape, it is nearly impossible to open a stapled-shut paper bag without ripping the bag. Even if a driver or other food service worker were so devious as to keep a staple remover handy, the missing staples still leave telltale holes in the bag.
Label proponents suggest that staples around food can be dangerous, and that’s a fair point. Staff must use caution to apply staples correctly. They should receive training and reminders to never let a stray staple fall into the food they prepare and deliver. Staplers that fit the hand and allow the user to position the stapler at different angles make it easier and more ergonomically friendly to seal food deliveries.
The greatest potential source of infection with food is the person making it and the person delivering it. Restaurants must enforce handwashing and hygiene, employ new ways of keeping their kitchens germ-free (like ultraviolet lighting and enhanced air filtering), be vigilant about workers wearing masks, and make it financially possible for workers to stay home when they feel sick.