Food delivery companies call for fewer regulations for chains

CLEVELAND — Dave Umina has owned DeliverMeFood in the Cleveland area since 1996. Since then, all of his drivers have had to keep food in special delivery bags. Recently, he asked them to keep cleaning supplies in the back of a delivery car.

What do you want to know

  • A Cleveland food delivery company says fewer regulations apply to large national chains
  • DeliverMeFood must have a license to deliver food
  • The company must have special bags to deliver food as well as cleaning products

“The State of Ohio requires us to have cooler bags for cold foods as well as hot foods to carry,” Umina said.

That’s why he has a state license to deliver food, issued by the Medina County Health Department.

He gets the license renewed through unannounced inspections by the health department.

He told Spectrum News 1 that the largest nationwide third-party delivery services don’t have those requirements, even though they’re in the same company as him. His license requires him to store food in these bags. He said his drivers had to deliver the food within 20 minutes.

“All of our restaurants have delivery areas within 20 minutes of restaurants,” Umina said.

Umina said food should stay in the back of the car so drivers don’t touch it in transit.

“It’s like the wild West with these other services. They don’t have any restrictions of any kind,” Umina said.

Gina Nicholson Kramer oversees a study on third-party delivery services at Ohio State University. She said all food delivery service businesses must be licensed in Ohio, but not every individual driver.

“Yes, there is an inconsistency – that’s why the Ohio Department of Health is meeting with legal counsel to better clarify how to license these organizations that are out of state,” Nicholson Kramer said.

A Medina County Health Department official said local health departments allow food delivery services and Umina’s company is the only one licensed to deliver in the county. Nicholson Kramer said a national chain may need to obtain a license in each county and city health department where it delivers.

The state health department did not return multiple requests for comment.

“It would complicate things if they had to be licensed in every local health department’s jurisdiction,” Nicholson Kramer said.

Meanwhile, Umina said bad behavior by one company can reflect badly on the whole industry. He admits it would be difficult to oversee every freelance delivery driver.

“To enforce it, the challenge would be a random inspection because they have a lot more drivers than me. They would need more inspections and getting that driver to use that bag,” Umina said.