Food-sharing apps such as EatWith, Feastly and Cookapp have capitalised on the sharing economy’s enormous popularity. However, despite the sudden and continued rise of food-sharing apps, there are no clear regulatory or legislative requirements that directly apply to this industry. Below, we set out what four things all customers and hosts of food-sharing apps need to know.

1. Food-Sharing Sites Won’t Accept Any Responsibility for Damages

A food-sharing app’s terms and conditions contain several important disclaimers that all participants should read, including that the app will accept no responsibility for participating in their site. What this means is that if a customer gets seriously ill from contracting a foodborne disease, then the food-sharing provider (i.e. the app) will not compensate the customer with any damages.

Although you might assume food will be safe to eat, hosts do not need to provide their customers with an express guarantee that they will comply with food and safety standards. The industry is, at present, is still highly unregulated. The food-sharing provider accepts no risk for any damage that may befall you such as you tripping in the host’s home, or your host’s poor cooking skills resulting in a fire.

Hosts should also be aware of this disclaimer. For example, if you invite a customer to your home and he is rowdy, and breaks or steals your property while eating the meal, the food-sharing app accepts no responsibility. They would consider this as one of the “risks” that you knowingly take on when using their app.

To overcome these concerns, we recommend that:

  • Hosts inform their home and contents insurer of the change in circumstances; and
  • They upgrade the policy that they have undertaken with their insurance provider to ensure the best protection for their home.

2. Hosts Should Get a Business Licence From the Local Council

Hosts should first talk to their local council. Most councils will require hosts to have a business licence to sell food from their home. We also encourage hosts to talk to their local council about:

  • Waste disposal,
  • Environmental controls,
  • Zoning restrictions, and
  • Development planning that may concern their home-based business.

3. Hosts Must Abide by the Food Standards Code

Hosts should take note of particular legislative requirements in the Food Standards Code, including:

  • All hosts are responsible for making sure that people who handle the food have the skills and knowledge to handle the food safely;
  • Hosts should ensure that the food isn’t contaminated;
  • Hosts must have adequate space to conduct the activities;
  • Hosts must have the food premises cleaned and sanitised; and
  • Depending on the food served, hosts may need to appoint a food safety supervisor for their food kitchen

Food safety officers are also entitled to inspect the host’s home without notice.

4. You Need a Licence to Sell Alcohol

In NSW, it is illegal to sell or serve alcohol without a licence. Remember, if hosts cannot obtain the necessary licence, they can opt for guests to BYO alcohol. However, even if the host chooses a BYO option, they still have the responsibility of minimising overconsumption and cannot provide alcohol to minors.

Key Takeaways

It is important that app users know that food-sharing providers can limit their liability in their terms and conditions. Hosts should note that they will need to comply with legislative requirements and that a good first step is talking to your local council.

Questions? Get in touch on 1300 544 755.

Lachlan McKnight
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