Super-app Grab says it has removed the likes of snakes and monitor lizards from its food delivery service in Indonesia amid reports of links between exotic animal meat and the international novel coronavirus outbreak.
Ian, a seller from Tenda Dua Cobra, a warung tenda (roadside pop-up restaurant) in Tangerang that specializes in dishes made of reptile meat, complained that his products were removed from Grab Food.
“[My dishes on] Grab Food have been removed, they said we’re not allowed to sell snakes and monitor lizards because [they’re suspected to spread] the coronavirus,” Ian told Kompas yesterday.
Ian has been selling exotic meat dishes for 17 years.
“If they really contained coronavirus, we should’ve been dead a long time ago,” he said.
In a written statement issued yesterday, Grab Indonesia said it has halted the sale of exotic meat on its platform to adhere to the laws on consumer protection and food supply, which require that customers be given food that’s safe for consumption.
“At the same time this is a precautionary measure regarding the dangers of the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in Indonesia,” Grab’s head of marketing Hadi Surya Koe said in the statement.
According to Hadi, a recent meeting between the company and animal welfare organization Animal Defenders Indonesia also influenced the policy. They promised to take stern action against merchants that keep selling the meat, from removing the dishes to temporarily or permanently closing their accounts on the platform.
Exotic meat prohibited on Grab Food include dogs, crocodiles, sharks, stingrays, lizards, scorpions, bats, cats, tortoises, softshell turtles, weasels, rats, geckos, pangolins, and snakes.
Grab also encouraged users to report merchants still selling products based on the aforementioned list above.
The novel coronavirus, now officially named COVID-19 by the World Health Organization, has now killed more than 1,300 people and infected over 60,300 as of this afternoon. The disease has so far affected at least 27 other countries around the world, including Singapore and Malaysia. Indonesia has yet to confirm a COVID-19 case in the country.