LOS ANGELES – The restaurant industry now relies on delivery to survive during the pandemic, and it seems rideshare services do, too.

In its last quarterly report, Uber reported UberEats earned more than the ride-hailing division. As the food delivery industry continues to grow, Los Angeles County is looking into safety training for drivers. 

What You Need To Know

  • The food delivery industry continues to grow

  • Los Angeles County is looking into safety training for drivers

  • If passed, a motion would require a Food Handler Certification Card for drivers

  • Drivers said it is not necessary and would be a hurdle to obtain

Earle’s Restaurant is a staple in Crenshaw serving their famous hot dogs. Hildred Earl and her sons grew it into the booming business it is today.

“We are a small family-owned business. My sons work from sunup to sun down,” said Earl.

They work hard especially during the pandemic. Earle’s actually never delivered their food before, so they quickly needed to sign up for all the services, and train their staff to safely package the food for transfer.

“We couldn’t afford delivery before the pandemic and we need it. Without it we are stuck,” said Earl.

With delivery services on the rise, L.A. County filed a new motion on July 21, 2020 to require a Food Handler Certification Card for drivers. The motion states that there are safety risks during the pandemic and there is currently no safe food handling training required for drivers.

The matriarch of the Earls said this is not needed because their staff has the food safety card and completely seals their bags for delivery to make sure no one opens it.

“I can’t see the use of a food handing card for a driver who is just picking up an order that is sealed and stapled. They aren’t supposed to be handling the food,” said Earl.

The motion is requesting Public Health to look into the idea of requiring drivers to take a two-hour course costing $9 to $15 from the American National Standard Institute.

Akeem Woods, a Postmates driver for three years, said this is not necessary. He said drivers do not handle food, and it would be a hurdle for them to obtain.

“You aren’t touching the food. It’s just bags and more bags,” said Woods.

Woods further said if this motion does pass, he hopes the companies or the county would pay for the card since it will take time away from their work hours.

Jade Stevens, founder of the Black Restaurant Coalition, has spoken to many restaurants who are against this motion and had them sign opposition letters to send to L.A. County.

“I think the idea was meant to protect delivery drivers and customers, but in reality, the card does not do that. It doesn’t make sense and just creates a barrier and a hurdle to overcome during a time when it’s the highest unemployment we’ve seen,” said Stevens. 

Earl understands there is a scare with the pandemic, but still hopes this does not pass because she fears drivers will be deterred from doing the job which her restaurant relies on.

“We need it. My sons need it. My customers need it," she said.

In a statement Supervisor Hilda Solis said:

“Requiring online certification on safe food handling practices could protect delivery drivers. As a former U.S. Secretary of Labor, I am committed to doing more for our gig workers, and I believe critical training on safe food delivery practices will protect these independent contractors.”

The Board motion directs pertinent County departments to provide a 14-day report back and as of now the motion is still under review and has not been discussed again.