Consumers warned about buying food on Facebook
HEALTH authorities are warning against buying food from online platforms such as Facebook's Marketplace, as advertisements from backyard cooks soar.
Marketplace is a popular Facebook tool where shoppers can buy and sell items within their local community. Increasingly, it is being used to sell food made from home.
Anything from curries to spring rolls, dumplings, samosas, fried rice and regional foods from Russia, Nepal and the Philippines are widely available, but are often prepared in home kitchens, operating outside stringent commercial food standards.
Restaurant & Catering Industry Association of Australia deputy chief executive Sally Neville said that consumers buying food from Facebook were risking their health and could even be supporting a black economy if the money is undeclared for taxation purposes.
"We have such huge diversity in food service we should support those businesses that employ people and provide great food and contribute to our economy," she said.
Health Minister Steven Miles yesterday warned consumers to be careful when buying food online. "Anyone who has had food poisoning knows just how sick it can make you," he said.
Dylan Pires, who owns food truck King of the Wings and is in the process of opening two restaurants this year, said there were strict protocols governing serving and selling food, for good reason.
"Dealing with people that are selling on Marketplace, some don't have food licences, they don't have commercial kitchens, you don't know how sanitary the kitchens are that they're cooking in," he said.
"We pay a fortune for public liability as well, as do most other restaurants. If someone was to get sick from buying off Marketplace, there is no one that's taking responsibility for that."
A Queensland Health spokeswoman said the department was aware of people selling food via online platforms such as Marketplace and Gumtree, but any related illnesses were so far going unreported.
"Only around one-third of all foodborne illness cases are reported, so it is feasible that members of the public have become ill following consumption of food purchased on an online platform," she said.
"Consumers should make an informed decision on where they purchase food and consider the risks associated with purchasing food via an unregulated business."
A Brisbane City Council spokesman said that they would investigate any concerns raised by members of the public.