Update, 11am: Zomato found that the video was real (well done, Zomato, that was fast!), shot in Madurai, and did indeed involve one of its delivery person who has now been taken off the platform, after having spoken to him, and “understanding that this was a human error in judgment.”

“This incident only makes our commitment to fleet training, scheduling and process even stronger. We stand behind our extensive fleet who do the right thing across many hours of the day,” Zomato said in an update to its previous statement.

Earlier, 10:51am: One of Zomato’s food delivery personnel was seen eating out of multiple food packets from a delivery box and resealing the brown paper bag with what looks like tape, reports the Economic Times. While it does appear that this package would be delivered next, it is absolutely unclear from the video if it was delivered (the video terminates at this stage). It is also unclear where and when this happened, and whether it is/was real. Some users on social media said that they saw this video through WhatsApp forwards.

Zomato, on its part, has put out a statement (see full below) which says that

  • It is investigating “possible causes” internally
  • This is an “unusual and rare case”
  • It will introduce tamper proof tapes, and “other precautionary measures” to safeguard food
  • It will educate its 1.5 lakh delivery personnel to “highlight or escalate such deviations”, and ask users to report “anomalies”
  • Thank you delivery personnel (quite confusing)

This won’t be the first instance of this happening in India, as some tweets indicate

Some empathise with the delivery personnel, knowing that they do work under gruelling circumstances –

Cases outside India

In October, an UberEats delivery person was seen eating chips from a delivery order on a home’s front camera. This, was, however, in Melbourne. At the time, UberEats said that ‘Delivery partners using UberEats are expected to comply with the UberEats community guidelines which explain they can lose access to the app for tampering with orders. We encourage users of the app to contact us with any concerns or issues they may be having and we will work to resolve these with them.’ There’s also a report about a scam with UberEats US orders.

MediaNama’s take

While the veracity of the video is hard to ascertain, and given that this was sent to users on WhatsApp (which in itself does not inspire confidence), for a company which makes money from online food delivery, this is a problem. Since Zomato and Swiggy have delisted non FSSAI-listed restaurants in the past, it will also have to look into the conditions under which the food is being delivered. More than the loyalty and trust of its users, Zomato needs to understand that it is responsible for what goes on on its platform, regardless of whether its drivers are/not its employees. However, it might not be very long until food is delivered through a drone, eradicating some of these problems.

Our Zomato coverage here.

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Zomato’s full statement

  1. We take these kinds of reports extremely seriously and are investigating possible causes internally
  2. We would however like to iterate that – if this video is authentic, given our multiple communication channels with users, who expect the highest standards from Zomato and highlight the smallest deviations and anomalies to us as soon as they receive their orders, this is an unusual and rare case.
  3. Unfortunately, this also highlights a real possibility for tampering with the food, on the way to delivery from a restaurant. We take this very seriously and will soon introduce tamper proof tapes, and other precautionary measures to ensure we safeguard against this. Additionally we will educate our delivery fleet of over 1.5 lakh partners to highlight or escalate any such deviations to us, while also encouraging our users – the custodians of our platform to highlight the smallest anomalies to us.
  4. And finally, our delivery partners are the face of our brand, and the heart of our success in growing to become the largest food delivery platform in the country. Our food delivery business has grown immensely over the last year on the back of our large delivery partner fleet that work very hard to ensure that zomato translates to a high quality food experience. We thank them and the strong support and trust from our restaurant partners, consumers and investors.