CHICAGO (WGN) — Online food deliveries have exploded during the pandemic. But when you place your order, do you really know who’s cooking your food?
In one case, a Chicago delivery driver said he picked up meals that were prepared in the kitchen of a suburban apartment. He asked only to be identified by his first name, Kurt.
“I was thinking, this can’t be legal,” he said. “I was worried someone was going to get sick from the food.”
Kurt informed his customers and the Cook County Department of Public Health. The kitchen was ordered to close.
City and county officials said they have not been flooded with complaints about unlicensed meal prep sites, or so-called illegal “ghost kitchens,” but the law is clear. The preparation of food items for sale is not permitted in private residences.
In Kurt’s case, he picked up the meals from an apartment complex in unincorporated Cook County, near Des Plaines. The seller called itself Blackbird online, though it was not affiliated with the Michelin-starred restaurant with the same name, led by Chef Paul Kahan. (That eatery is now closed.)
A Cook County spokesman declined to comment.
It is not believed the meal prep site near Des Plaines is still doing business.
The owner told the county in an email, obtained by NewsNation affiliate WGN, that he would stop selling food and remove his menu from Uber Eats.
In an email, an Uber Eats spokesman said the company requires all restaurants — even ghost kitchens — to comply with local health, safety and licensing guidelines.