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tv   Takeaway Secrets Exposed - Panorama  BBC News  January 18, 2019 3:30am-4:00am GMT

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it is about 3:30 a.m. you up—to—date with the headlines. now on bbc news, panorama. tonight on panorama, the big tech companies, like deliveroo and just eat, disrupting the food industry. their aim is to go into an existing market, kill off the competition and take over the market. we investigate where your takeaway meal could really be coming from. we reveal how deliveroo is taking advantage of planning law loopholes. rather than permission. and we uncover howjust eat has listed restaurants with appalling standards, which can have fatal consequences. i'd called the ambulance cos she'd stopped breathing. it's like living a nightmare. grown by over 70% and is now worth over £4bn a year. how many times a week do you use food delivery apps? at least one, maybe two, a week. that's it?
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i am thinking more four or five times a week. over half of all takeaway orders are now made online. here's how it works. i choose what i want to eat, i place my order with a local restau ra nt or ta keaway through the app, the food then gets delivered straight to my front door, and the restaurant gets charged a commission by the company running the app. the two big players dominating this game in the uk are just eat and deliveroo. they are part of a new wave of what are known as disruptors, a disru ptarecreateseafnew ma leek where there wasn't one in the past. if we think about, say, airbnb, they have displaced the whole hotel market. if we think about uber, it changes the taxi market. so it's a completely new way
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of offering a new type of product or service, so their aim is to go into an existing market, kill off the competition and take over the market. the number of orders placed through food delivery apps has trebled in the last two years and an increasing number of us are cutting back on cooking at home. deliveroo launched in 2013, promising to deliver restaurant meals straight to our front doors. six years on, they are the second biggest food delivery app in the uk, with over 15,000 riders zipping across our streets. last year, deliveroo sales more than doubled to an astonishing £277m we've seen a copy of one of deliveroo‘s secret investor brochures. no.
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he is nearby — four minutes... sue-2: 42; eieie; m, it could, in fact, be coming from here. a world away from what you think of when you think of a restaurant. food with the brand names of 18 different restaurants is produced here and marketed as deliveroo editions. there are 16 edition sites across the uk.
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here, the kitchens are located in nine containers. they are tiny. look, that is a kitchen. no windows. basically a box in a car park. every food business establishment, even if it's in a car park, has to register with their local authority. this means they can be inspected and given a rating, so customers know the food is safe to eat. so can you find out the hygiene ratings of restaurants operating here? when we looked up the brand names on the food standards agency website, there was strangely no trace of some of them at this location. we sent a freedom of information request to the local authority — tower hamlets. would we find these brand names registered and on their list to inspect? after combing through the data, there were ten that didn't show up. so just what was
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happening at this site? we went in to see if we could find these kitchens. the first we came across — buns & buns. ok, so this is one of the restaurants here in the blackwall site. let me see if... no, they are all ignoring me inside. as well as buns & buns, we also found a kitchen with high street brand name dirty bones. once again, we checked with tower hamlets, who told us, "neither dirty bones or buns & buns are known to the authority." it didn't make sense, so we asked deliveroo what was going on. we discovered that when you order dirty bones' or buns & buns' food through deliveroo editions at blackwall, yourfood is in fact coming from a company called restaurant brands management — under a licensing arrangement. this wasn't mentioned anywhere on the deliveroo website and, without that crucial information, it was impossible for customers to check hygiene ratings. restaurant brands management does have a five—star rating,
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but a customer wouldn't have been able to find that out. in a statement to panorama, deliveroo said... since we contacted them, deliveroo have changed their website to clarify in the small print which restaurants operate under licence or as virtual brands. deliveroo also has a problem with planning permission here. after their temporary permission expired last summer, they asked to renew it and to add two more containers. the local council refused to renew their planning permission injuly, but they are still operating anyway. the law allows them six months to appeal, so deliveroo are still here. finding creative ways
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through the rules is a common strategy of disruptors. the key part of their business model initially is to outrun or outskirt rules and regulations, so often using the banner of tech disruptor as a kind of alibi. and when you get pulled up, you canjust say, "0h, didn't realise." yeah. either didn't realise or didn't realise that it applied to us, or in fact it doesn't apply to us, we are operating in this completely new and innovative market, and you need to, as regulators, tell us what to do. in september 2017, deliveroo announced it was prioritising the rapid growth of these delivery— only sites across the country. they are aiming to almost double their number this year. this is swiss cottage in north london. here, deliveroo set up another nine industrial kitchens, hosting 20 different food brands. there are strict planning regulations for opening a takeaway in the uk. believe it or not, deliveroo argue they are not a takeaway because customers place their orders
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online and not in store. at this site, deliveroo are claiming they can use a type of planning permission reserved for light industrial operations. deliveroo argue that, as they come under this light industrial class, they don't need to apply for extra permission. so, local residents didn't know that an industrial kitchen was opening on their doorstep. but a business cannot legitimately use this planning class if it has a detrimental impact on the surrounding community. mark hutchinson is a member of the local residents' association. he lives on a road that directly overlooks the deliveroo site. it is a constant nuisance, so we have to put up with a vast
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increase in the number of bikes making journeys to and from the area, so you've got all that noise and inevitably some of them break the law, riding on the pavements, and zooming in and out of traffic. residents took their concerns about the kitchens to their local councillor. it's a very large—scale operation on a very tiny site. deliveroo estimate a peak of 192 mopeds an hour. deliveroo's transport statement for this site estimates there could be up to 194 scooter trips in peak hours. the local council concluded that the site is having a detrimental impact on the local community and served deliveroo with an enforcement notice to close the site, but deliveroo is appealing the council's decision. iffeiiglii iijf; ;==;;1:’z:j; li’; fie: . . .,.,. w. . — —— ———— they know that they're going to be able to continue to make money while the appeal is heard. i think it's about deliveroo putting their profits ahead of the communities
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that they set up in. i think it's a sort of classic strategy of ask for forgiveness rather than permission. and this isn't an isolated case. panorama has discovered that another three deliveroo dark kitchen sites — two more in london and one in brighton — have been told to close and served with enforcement notices for operating in residential areas in breach of planning controls. these pla nningecontrolsa refit just.- by limiting the number of new takeaways. deliveroo are able to avoid these restrictions. they say they are not in fact a takeaway. i think that's an easy get—out clause and deliveroo considering themselves not a takeaway but still delivering takeaways is a direct undermining of the strategy of a lot of local authorities around obesity. in a statement to panorama,
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deliveroo said... # magic is pizza, tacos, fish and chips... in the uk, the biggest takeaway delivery app by far is just eat. with glossy adverts and prominent branding on our high streets, it's become a trusted way to orderfood. just eat. summon up your favourite takeaway tonight. in 2017, just eat became one of the uk's 100 most valuable listed than sainsbury‘s, m&s or morrisons. just eat has signed up 29,000 restau ra nts a nd ta keaways, and a staggering ten million of us used the site last year — that's a fifth of all uk adults. unlike deliveroo, just eat‘s business model relies on the takeaway restaurants themselves providing the delivery service. the founder ofjust eat once
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described it as "the perfect business model" because they don't actually handle any food, theyjust take the orders. yeah. handling food is a bad business. we know that restaurants often lose money, rather than make money, whereas being a platform that connects consumers and the restaurants is actually a very good business. it means that you can take large rewards without the significant risks which comes with actually running a restaurant. food safety is an integral part of running a takeaway business. environmental health officers in england, wales and northern ireland give every business they inspect a rating between zero and five — zero being the worst. how bad does a restaurant or takeaway need to be to have a zero hygiene rating? very, very bad. we are looking at significant noncompliance with the law. serious noncompliance with the law. none of the big online takeaway
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sites display hygiene ratings when you order and panorama discovered over 100 zero—rated restau ra nts a nd ta keaways listed onjust eat. we have obtained some of the inspection records for these restaurants. the conditions are, i mean, seriously shocking. restaurants that had cockroach infestations, rat and mice infestations, and really bad hygiene standards. yeah. and that is extremely worrying from a public health point of view because, at the end of the day, we all want to be able to go onto a just eat website, buy food and have a reasonable expectation, a strong expectation, that the food we're buying through there is safe. of the zero—rated for hygiene restaurants we found onjust eat, more than 40% had been reprimanded for also having poor allergen controls in place, and that can have deadly consequences. two men have been found guilty
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of the manslaughter by gross negligence of a 15—year—old girl who suffered an allergic reaction to a takeaway meal. injanuary 2017, megan lee died after eating a takeaway meal that she'd ordered throuthust eat. she was our princess, she was our first child, the family's first grandchild. she really looked after her brother. she was a role model to owen. they were always making little video clips. she loved that, and he loved that, they loved to do that together. take me back to december 2016. what happened ? that morning, she planned to go to blackburn town centre with her friend. they did their shopping and then went back to her friend's house cos they were revising for their exams, and then she messaged in the afternoon at some time, "is it ok if i stay for tea?
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"i think we're going to get a takeout." using just eat, megan and her friend ordered a takeaway from the royal spice restaurant in lancashire. megan had a nut and prawn allergy. her friend specified this on thejust eat order, but after eating the meal, megan returned home and quickly became ill. her lips started to swell. i instantly knew that it was an allergic reaction. i'd called the ambulance, but i had to put my phone on the floor cos i had to do cpr cos she'd stopped breathing. it's like a nightmare, it's like living a nightmare. i can't describe it in any other way. the meal was subsequently found to be contaminated with peanuts, a result of poor food safety at the restaurant. megan was rushed to hospital in blackburn and spent the next two days in intensive care.
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i remember us sitting with the doctor. he told us that there was nothing more that they could do... was time to let her go and... ..she wouldn't have survived without life support. this is where megan and her friend ordered a takeaway from in december 2016. the managers were found guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence. the jury heard it was a disaster waiting to happen. during the trial of the royal spice managers, just eat were called to give evidence. they made clear that when a restaurant signs up, they agree to be solely responsible for food safety rather thanjust eat. you could say that's not their responsibility, but i think it is.
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i think they have a major influence now on many, many transactions between people with food allergies and food businesses, and they have opportunities to reduce these risks if they take that responsibility into their hands. all food businesses are legally required to be able to provide information about 1k major allergens. responsibility onto the takeaways themselves. with the influence thatjust eat have, they can certainly say to the takeaways, "you need to meet these guidelines in order to be on the list "forjust eat or to advertise or use this platform." just eat have put themselves right between the customer and the business and if they don't address the information needs,
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then they're quite possibly going to be involved in yet another fatal reaction. in a statement to panorama, just eat said... just eat endorse some takeaways as local legends, the creme de la creme of takeaways in your area. these feature eye—catchingly at the top of the listings. just eat say only restaurants with the highest food hygiene ratings can be given this title, yet we found a restaurant with a zero hygiene rating crowned as local legends. it's extraordinary, isn't it?
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a food hygiene rating system is vastly important for us understanding how good a restaurant is, and so to have a zero rating i don't think, in anybody‘s mind, would be a local legend. two years after the death of megan lee, we found just eat continued to actively promote takeaways with poor hygiene and allergen standards. just eat still don't require restaurants to provide any allergen information on their site. instead, they put the onus on customers to contact the restaurants directly to find out whether your meal is suitable for you. so does this system work? posing as a customer with an allergy, i followed just eat‘s advice and phoned zero—rated local legend karo's pizza in liverpool to see if they could give me the legally required allergen information. line rings
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if i order the cheeseburger and i have a wheat allergy, is that ok for me? 0k. all right. thank you. bye. next up, tong feng house in greater manchester. five—star customer reviews, but our research shows it's zero—rated for hygiene. ijust wanted to know, is there wheat in the chicken chow mein? there's no wheat? definitely no wheat in the chicken chow mein? are you sure? 0k, thank you very much. we collected the chicken chow mein and sent it away for testing. ok, that's it. check out.
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i ordered another meal using thejust eat app from mama mia pizza in birmingham, another takeaway with a zero hygiene rating. i ordered a burger without the bun, so would they be able to tell me we sent the burger away for testing. there was, in fact, gluten in the burger. we also got the results back from the chicken chow mein. it was full of wheat, so that's two restaurants listed onjust eat that gave me incorrect information that could have been really dangerous for me if i had an allergy. in a statement to panorama, just eat told us... they added that the poorly rated restaurants that we found should not have been promoted on their site. karo's pizza and mama mia pizza told us they believe staff didn't understand our question and both add that they display allergy information in store. karo's pizza add that they have requested a new hygiene inspection under new management. tong feng house told us a new staff member provided the incorrect information and they are retraining their team. in the uk, more than a third
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of all restaurants, takeaways and cafes now use online delivery apps. you might think that'd be good for business, but the rise of these technology disruptors has left some businesses struggling. restaurants pay a substantial commission on each order they receive through the delivery apps. jakir ahmed has been running this curry house in bristol for the past 17 years. in 2009, he was approached byjust eat. their rep used to come round and keep trying and trying, you know, to show us the benefits of why we should sign up with them. he eventually signed up and says he agreed to pay a 9% commission onjust eat orders, but that quickly increased. the commission rate keeps going up. i started on nine, now it's up to 1a.
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he also noticed that his restaurant started slipping down thejust eat listings despite good reviews. they started introducing sponsored links every couple of weeks, somebody phoning up, saying, "if you pay £200 a month, "we can put you on top of the website." but to pay to be on there, that can be done by anybody. just eat claim they only allow restaurants with a hygiene rating of three or above to pay to be promoted on their site, but we found numerous examples of ta keaways a nd restau ra nts with less than that right at the top of the listings. it's just not ethical, as far as i'm concerned. many family—run restaurants like this operate on a thin profit margin and with food delivery companies likejust eat charging substantial commissions, it's proving harder than ever to survive. it becomes unmanageable and unaffordable, in my opinion.
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i can give you a list of restaurants that have closed down. if you don't do your calculations in terms of, you know, profit margins and costs and everything, then you're not going to be around. if you're not ordering from your local favourite takeaway and you decide that it's easier to order from the platforms, then, actually, you're taking business away from your local restaurants and the high streets could become entirely empty. as tech companies without a presence on the high street, just eat and deliveroo don't have the same burdensome overheads of traditional takeaways. disruptors essentially take on very low risks. they don't have to actually produce the product or invest in capital, but then they take very high rewards. by doing that, they are then able to monopolise the market and if anyone wants to get their food delivered, there's only one or two games in town any more.
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jakir has now removed his business from just eat. they didn't force my hand in terms of signing the first contract, but they have changed the rules, and that's what i'm bitter about. i don't think they give a damn. they'rejust too big and i think most of the businesses will not come up againstjust eat because they're just too big an organisation. just eat and deliveroo have both built billion—pound businesses by changing the way we eat, and there's no sign of their rapid growth slowing down. the simplicity of ordering through my laptop without getting off the seat is great, but there is a cost of convenience, and i don't think people are actually aware of that. if i was aware that what is going on actually cost the business in terms of ordering through that means or a different means, i would think twice. your favourite takeaway that you might have used for yearsjust can't compete with a tin shack
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by the railway line. we become addicted to the app. we get hooked on cheap deliveries which are super—convenient, and only later do we find out there's problems in the longer run. hello there, good morning. cold and frosty across many parts of the country but in the west there is a band of cloud bringing patchy rain and the threat of sleet and snow to
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further east across the uk this is where it will feel cold. will not be sunny alike was on thursday that it will have —— will not have a northerly wind. temperatures recover a little towards the west. it won't be as frosty as we start the weekend. for many saturdays a dull day. we have a few showers left over, mostly rain but the risk of a little sleet and snow over the hills. the best of the sunshine for northern scotland and temperatures struggling to four, five, six celsius. more frost the second half of the weekend with more sunshine promised for sunday. the week whether foreign promised for sunday. the week whetherforeign pushing promised for sunday. the week whether foreign pushing down promised for sunday. the week whetherforeign pushing down from the north—west will not give much at all and we have the sunshine following into scotland and northern ireland north—westerly wind. again, which is struggling to six celsius. welcome to bbc news, broadcasting to viewers in north america and around the globe. my name is mike embley.
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our top stories: the duke of edinburgh, the queen's 97 year—old husband, is involved in a car crash. his car overturned but the royal family says he's not injured. a top north korean diplomat arrives in washington, fuelling speculation of a second summit between kim jong—un and donald trump. thousands take to the streets of the sudanese capital khartoum, demanding the resignation of president 0mar al—bashir. and we report from gaza on the hospitals that face possible closure because of shortages of fuel and medicine.
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