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Home / Business / Nearly 30 percent of food suppliers admit to stealing food, studies find: NPR

Nearly 30 percent of food suppliers admit to stealing food, studies find: NPR



A San Francisco restaurant displays the mailing company logo.

Bloomberg via Getty Images


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Bloomberg via Getty Images

A restaurant in San Francisco displays the logo of food delivery company Postmates.

Bloomberg via Getty Images

The smell of a tasty meal is hard to ignore – especially when it belongs to someone else. At least that's the suggestion from a recent survey that found that nearly 30% of drivers snack on the food they're responsible for delivering.

The survey conducted by US Foods, which supplies food to restaurants, gathered information from around 500 food delivery drivers and more than 1,500 customers in America who order through apps such as DoorDash, Postmates, Grubhub and UberEats.

Respondents ranged from 18 to 77 years old, with a median age of 31. Drivers who reported working for at least one food delivery app had a median age of 30. In an effort to better understand the process of ordering and delivering meals, the company asked both groups about their "habits and pain points."

Fifty-four percent of the questioned drivers admitted to being tempted by the smell of a customer's food, and about half of them actually took a bite.

"We regret to report that impulse is sometimes the best of suppliers, and they are breaking their sacred duty by taking some of the food!" US Foods said it in a statement.

Asked if they objected to their driver snagging some french fries, the average customer response was 8.4 out of 10 – 1 represented "no big deal" and 10 labeled "totally unacceptable."

To remedy the problem, 85% of customers recommended adding clear labels or packaging that often comes in the form of a sticker.

Some delivery services already have strategies in place.

Postmates told NPR that cases of food sabotage account for less than 0.06% of the reports it receives. However, the delivery service still requires that "every person who completes a delivery by mail-mates expressly agrees that all food and goods delivered will arrive in a tamper-free form and in accordance with all applicable laws of math health and safety."

In a chat, a representative of Grubhub said that if a customer suspects that some of the food is missing, the company will potentially open an investigation and make a refund.

UberEats and DoorDash have not responded to NPR's request for comment.

In its delivery guidelines, UberEats said it would disable any account with fraudulent activity or abuse, including "requiring to complete a delivery without ever retrieving the delivery item; and picking up a delivery item but not delivering it in its entirety."

Doordash instructs its drivers not to open food containers or tamper with the order in any way. If a customer suspects food tampering, the company states that they will disable the driver's account.

Overall, the provision of restaurant food services is a growing business and is transforming the way people receive their meals.

In 2018, UBS found that food delivery platforms were, on average, in the top 40 most downloaded apps in major markets.

"We believe it is possible that by 2030, most meals will be cooked at home instead and delivered from restaurants or central kitchens," according to UBS.


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