Uber Eats Hailed for ‘Giant Step’ With App’s Food Allergy Features

in Food Allergy, Food Allergy News
Published: May 28, 2024
Uber Eats Hailed for 'Giant Step' With App's Food Allergy Features
Photo: Uber

Uber is launching new food allergy features in its popular Uber Eats app throughout the United States and Canada.

In a May 28 announcement, the global food delivery service says that it created the food allergy features after “thinking about new ways to create a better online food delivery process for these individuals.” 

FARE CEO Dr. Sung Poblete called Uber’s move “a giant step forward in recognizing the powerful consumer force” that is the food allergy community. Poblete says her nonprofit applauds the company’s “proactive approach” to make it easier for food-allergic customers to make their allergy restrictions clear to restaurants. 

The new food allergy features that Uber Eats is rolling out include: 

  • A restaurant’s “store details” page that informs customers whether a restaurant can or cannot accommodate food allergies. 
  • A special instructions field where consumers can type in their food allergy-related needs.
  • A list of common allergens where customers can select their own and save them to their user profile. (There is an option to enter additional allergens.)  
  • A link to call the eatery to discuss food allergies, if that is an option from the merchant.

Jennifer Gerdts, executive director of Food Allergy Canada, notes the striking growth in the use of food delivery apps alongside the need for effective communication on food allergies. “With Uber Eats’ new allergy request feature, consumers can now disclose their food allergies in a more streamlined way with participating restaurants,” Gerdts said. That means “they can make more informed decisions.”

Allergy Features for Restaurants

Uber Eats Hailed for 'Giant Step' With App's Food Allergy Features
Photo: Uber

Uber is also unveiling new allergy features in the Uber Eats app geared toward restaurants and food retailers. These include:

  • Highlighting customers’ allergy disclosures on the Uber Eats Orders app and on the printed receipt in bold. Uber’s announcement says this is “so that merchants can more easily see them and not miss them.” 
  • Providing “new ability” to contact a customer if the merchant is not able to accommodate a specific allergy request. (Then the two parties can discuss how to proceed.)  

FARE’s CEO says she appreciates “Uber’s work to make online food delivery more accessible to people with the disease of food allergy, and we look forward to our continued partnership.”  

Uber Eats: TV Ad Controversy

Poblete was at the forefront of the successful efforts to remove an insensitive peanut allergy clip from an Uber Eats commercial in February 2024. The clip, meant to be humorous, came off as offensive to the food allergy community. It showed a man in the midst of a serious reaction eating peanut butter from a jar. He had a swollen face, hives and one eye swollen shut.

Furor erupted over this one section of the ad, especially since it was set to air during the Super Bowl and reach an audience of about 120 million viewers. The main parts of the ad featured big stars like Jennifer Aniston and the Beckhams.  

Poblete spoke with a senior Uber executive to discuss why an ad making peanut allergies the butt of a joke is wrong. She came away from that conversation hopeful that Uber Eats would be “a new ally”. 

Gerdts also spoke to Uber. Meanwhile, other U.S. allergy nonprofits also raised their objections to food allergies, which can be severe, being reduced to a punchline.

From Misstep to Stepping Up

Uber’s executives were receptive to the outpouring of concern. Uber Eats edited the commercial, so it no longer included the peanut clip. 

Now, a few months after the TV ad controversy, Uber is taking steps accommodate the food allergy community. It stated that the timing of the app’s new allergy features was “in recognition of Food Allergy Awareness Month.” After the North American launch, the features will begin rolling out globally in June 2024.

Poblete hails Uber’s action. However, she told Allergic Living there is much more awareness needed among brands of the food allergy community as a powerful consumer group. 

“We appreciate that Uber is setting an example,” she said. “It is our hope that others follow suit and that developing partnerships broaden and deepen to better support this amazing community.” 

Related Reading:
Uber Eats Cuts Peanut Allergy Clip from Super Bowl Ad
Family Awarded $200K in Botched Burrito and Allergy Incident