Beijing regulators censures Meituan, Dianping, Ele.me for food safety

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Beijing government agencies rebuked five Chinese online food delivery players for allowing unlicensed restaurants on their platforms, a move it says is aimed at protecting local customers from food safety issues, reported state-owned media entity People.cn on Wednesday.

Loose registration standards from local food delivery services, including Meituan Dianping, Alibaba’s Ele.me, and JD.com-backed Daojia,  allowed around 35,000 Beijing-area restaurants without proper licenses to sell to users, according to figures from the Beijing branch of the State Administration for Market Regulation. Non-compliant food sellers were shut down in a recent government crackdown.

Beijing authorities urged online food delivery platforms to be “more self-disciplined,” and to proactively cooperate with market regulators for better food safety.

“Meituan Waimai will strictly comply with all the management rules raised by Beijing authorities,” Lu Weijia, head of Meituan’s food safety management, said in a statement provided by the company. Food insurance, she added, will also be promoted on a large scale, beginning with special customer service windows to handle complaints.

The crackdown comes as World Consumer Rights Day nears.  The Mar. 15 day for raising consumer rights awareness in China translates into heavier media coverage of the issue and tightened government control. State-owned broadcaster CGTN runs the annual “315” TV special which uses hidden cameras to capture unfair practices.

A number of established global brands, including Apple, McDonald’s, and Nike, had been named and shamed in previous episodes. Online food delivery platforms faced prior scrutiny, with Ele.me revealed in 2016 for unlicensed restaurants available on its platform, according to Tencent Tech (in Chinese).