Every year, the UK throws away thousands of tonnes of consumable food, so how can restaurants play a part in helping to reduce the amount of food we waste?
Perhaps the biggest issue facing the food and drink industry today is its current high levels of food waste, not only in the UK but all across the world.
On a global scale, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has called for a renewed global commitment to zero tolerance for food loss and waste. This comes after the organisation revealed that one-third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally every year throughout the supply chain.
In the UK, campaigners at the Women’s Institute are behind an initiative to encourage supermarkets and retailers to do more to stop food waste. They claim that in Europe, the UK wastes more food than any other country, costing the average household £470 every year.
In addition to this, the British government has recently said that the reason behind the UK throwing away £12 billion of edible food each year is down to ‘confusing’ packaging. In order to tackle this, it has released guidance telling supermarkets to only include use-by or best-before dates and to remove sell-by and display-until labels that only relate to stock control.
When it comes to restaurants, food wastage is a big problem, but what are we doing to solve it?
Food wastage in restaurants is not only costly in regards to the use of the food itself, but it also means that growing costs are being placed on the business. Restaurants that are more thrifty in how they store, cook and order food will certainly see their return on investment grow.
Putting business to one side, reducing food waste will also make a significant contribution to tackling climate change. According to WRAP, seven per cent of all global greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) - 3.3 billion tonnes CO2 equivalent (CO2eq) per year - are due to food waste.
Here we take a look at steps restaurant owners can take to not only reduce their food waste, but also decrease the costs attributed to this issue.
Many restaurants are stuck in the habit of ordering produce and food from the same supplier they have known for years. However as the market alters, so do the prices of food, which makes it worthwhile to re-evaluate your food order and find more sustainable options.
Often, we don’t look past ordering food, which makes it easy to disregard how much we throw away. When food orders are cheap, the financial impact of throwing it away is minimal, but sometimes it’s worth looking into what food is and where it comes from, so you can see how much is wasted along this journey.
Cooks can play a part in watching the waste they throw away, but it’s also a good idea to have a system that records exactly what is being thrown out. By recording the amount of food you purchase and then throw away, you’ll be able to understand how much your business is wasting. When you have this information, you will be able to decide on whether or not a new approach is required.
In food business, selling food that is out of date can be risky and, put simply, it’s not what your customers are paying for. Although the food may be perfectly edible, serving out-of-date food could cause complaints that will then be bad for business.
However, instead of throwing this food away, why not give it to those who need it the most? Not only is this good for the community, but it will also look great for your business values. Some restaurants are afraid of donating their leftovers in case they are sued if someone gets sick, but the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act protects restaurants against those kinds of liability claims.