Rise in food for sale on Facebook Marketplace prompts health warning
First it was second-hand furniture and clothes, now social media is being used to sell food — but an expert has warned against the practice, saying there could be serious health consequences.
- Ads for meals and food items have emerged on social media selling platforms in Tasmania
- An expert has warned there could be risks for both the seller and consumer if the vendor does not have a licence
- Facebook Australia says sellers are responsible for abiding with applicable laws and regulations
Fresh dumplings, naan bread, spring rolls, and even homemade dog food were all for sale on Facebook Marketplace in Hobart this week.
And while it might appear to be a convenient solution for anyone too busy to cook, Lydia Buchtman, communication director at the Food Safety Information Council, warned against buying meals and food products on social media.
“There are 4.1 million cases of food poisoning in Australia each year, and for that reason you have to be quite strictly regulated when it comes to selling food to the general public,” she said.
She explained that while food poisoning was common, many people weren’t aware that in severe cases individuals could develop long-term health conditions as a result — including arthritis.
“People have to bear in mind that you could make someone sick very quickly if you don’t follow the law, and you could be sued,” she said.
Responsibility lies with seller: Facebook
Ms Buchtman said it was becoming increasingly common for home cooks to sell food and meals on social media in Australia.
“Together with the spare pot plants that people are selling and children’s clothes, it’s definitely becoming more prevalent,” she said.
Facebook launched Marketplace in October 2016 in Australia, New Zealand, the US and the UK in a bid to compete with eBay and Gumtree.
The application faced controversy in Australia last year when a Queensland mum was angered over a ban on advertising second-hand breast pumps.
Antonia Sanda, head of communications for Facebook Australia, said sellers were responsible for complying with all applicable laws and regulations.
“This applies to the sale of food products as well … all Marketplace listings must comply with our community standards and commerce policies,” Ms Sanda said.
In addition, Ms Sanda confirmed the sale of live animals, ingestible supplements, and food and drinks that make health-related or medical claims was prohibited on the selling platform.
If in doubt, ask the seller, expert says
Lydia Buchtman told the ABC individuals who sold food to the general public were regulated by the National Food Authority Act 1991.
“It’s simple, if you sell food you must have a licence,” she said.
She added it was important people who are considering buying meals and pre-prepared food on Facebook Marketplace were aware of what to ask those selling the goods.
“We need to warn people that while it may look yummy, you still need to ask to see their food license before agreeing to the transaction,” she said.
The ABC contacted sellers of food on Facebook Marketplace for comment.