MEAL-SHARING APPS FLY UNDER THE REGULATORY RADAR

kitchenimage

Uber’s regulatory and legal troubles have been making a lot of headlines. But a whole different sector of the “sharing economy” – so-called “meal-sharing” – is growing with far less government scrutiny.

Apps such as Feastly, Cookapp and EatWith allow wannabe professional chefs to turn their homes into restaurants by advertising and serving home-cooked meals – for a price. 

There’s no legislation in sight that would mandate that these online meal merchants comply with state health, food safety and other relevant regulations. And health code inspectors aren’t knocking on the doors of private homes.  

Hosts using those apps aren’t required to have professional training, nor to meet state health codes. According to Feastly’s website, it follows strict guidelines to ensure food safety, “personally vets” each cook, and “provides them with access to” food handling certification providers. But the company doesn’t require hosts to obtain certification.

Feastly disclaims liability in its terms of use by stating that the hosts are solely responsible for their meals. In-home chefs are required to affirm that their services are provided in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.  

Cookapp’s website states that it maintains general liability insurance, while EatWith asserts that it “carefully vets” its hosts.

At least some health codes exempt “private clubs,” “private events,” or “private homes where food is prepared or served for family consumption,” from regulation. Whether Feastly or Cookapp dinners – held in private homes but sold to the public – are still considered “private,” though, is an open question.