Food delivery service Uber has expanded its reach into the dining halls of American cities and is on the cusp of a major breakthrough in the fight against food allergies.
But as a growing number of restaurants are now testing the free food delivery service, some experts are calling for an overhaul of the industry.
Food allergies and the food industryIn December 2016, the FDA announced that Uber and other food delivery companies must now test food on the premises, as a condition of obtaining a license to operate.
The FDA also announced that the companies could now use testing equipment to screen out potential foodborne pathogens from food in a way that would have been illegal in 2016.
In the United States, there are about 200 million people with food allergies — roughly 10 percent of the population.
That is up from a mere 1 percent in 2010, when the FDA estimated there were between 10 million and 15 million food allergies nationwide.
The FDA estimated that an estimated 25 million Americans were at risk for food allergies at any given time.
The Food and Drug Administration also said that the risk for anaphylaxis was the highest among people who were between 20 and 64 years old.
The Food and Nutrition Board, a federal agency that is charged with ensuring food safety, is also conducting research on the potential benefits of using a food delivery system to help address the rising number of food allergies in the United Kingdom.
The food delivery industry has been growing in popularity in recent years.
More than 20,000 food delivery businesses now operate in the U.S., according to a 2016 report from the Federal Trade Commission, which estimates that roughly one-third of the food served in restaurants in the country is delivered via food delivery.
In May 2017, Uber announced that it was partnering with the National Association of Broadcasters to help educate viewers about food allergies and food allergies-related illnesses.
The companies also partnered with the World Health Organization to provide more information about the health effects of foodborne viruses.
The company said that it would also continue to use its existing network of 1,000 restaurants across the country to deliver its free food, which includes sandwiches and hot meals.
Uber and its food delivery network have said that food allergy testing and testing equipment is only one of the ways the companies can help protect against foodborne diseases, and that there are many other steps that they are taking to increase safety.
The Washington Post