Until recently the food delivery service had allowed new operators awaiting an inspection to be listed on the platform.
However, following a sting operation that saw a team of BBC journalists successfully register a fake takeaway business on the site with no food hygiene rating, UberEats has revised its policy so that only businesses with a Scores on the Doors rating of two stars or above can now apply to trade through the service.
The Halal Guys, which serves a menu of hot sandwiches and platters made with chicken, beef or falafel, opened in London’s Leicester Square in March and started working with the delivery provider soon after launch.
But according to ITICO F+B director Whitney Myrus, one of three managing partners overseeing the UK rollout of the brand, the restaurant was recently given notice by UberEats that it would be delisted if it didn’t have a Scores on the Doors rating, and on Friday (12 July) was removed from the platform.
“The decision has already caused a visible impact to our business,” says Myrus, who adds that orders processed through UberEats accounts for roughly 20% of the restaurant’s business.
Myrus, however, is not only concerned with how this decision affects his own business, but also the precedent it sets for other restaurants trying to establish themselves within London’s fiercely competitive food scene.
“It’s not just that they did this to us; The Halal Guys is a large company, and at the end of the day will be able to weather this in the short term,” he says.
“But the real problem is it appears as if UberEats has adopted a policy that doesn’t support start-up restaurant businesses.”
Speaking to BigHosptiality, a spokesperson for UberEats says the company is working to establish a system that continues to support new restaurants, while also preventing operators that do not meet its standards from coming on to the app.
“UberEats is passionate about its industry, and we want to champion innovation and entrepreneurship within the restaurant sector. As such we’re now actively working with the FSA [which is responsible for the Scores on the Doors scheme] to understand how we can continue to support new restaurants that want to be serving customers as soon as possible, without compromising on our food safety values.”
Myrus claims that every time he has attempted to contact Westminster Council to arrange for an inspection he has been told that the council will “get to it when they get to it”.
A spokesperson for Westminster City Council responded saying: “There are thousands of restaurants in central London and hundreds of new ones open every year, making us one of the busiest council-run food hygiene teams in the country. We carried out over 1,400 inspections in 2018 and our priority is public safety.
“Each new premise is required to register with their local authority within 28 days of the date that they are due to open, following this the council will carry out an initial inspection. This particular business is due to receive its inspection shortly.”
UberEats isn’t the only food delivery service to recently modify its food hygiene procedures.
Earlier this year, Just Eat announced that it had removed all zero-rated restaurants from its platform, and introduced a new policy whereby all new restaurants applying to be listed on the site would require a minimum Scores on the Doors rating of three or above.
It has also invested £1m into providing bespoke training programmes to improve standards among restaurants with ratings lower than three.
Furthermore, yesterday (15 July) it said that ‘it had become the first online food delivery company to publish the official food hygiene rating of every restaurant listed on its platform’.