While more than 800 million people starve in some parts of the world, food waste reaches its peak each year in the other, more developed parts. The number climaxed at a staggering 64 million tons of wasted food each year. Some studies even speculate that this figure will increase by a third by the end of this decade. (https://hospitalityinsights.ehl.edu/food-waste-management-innovations)
Highly alarming data.
Food service industry
When it comes to the food service industry, we witness a booming fashion of eating outside of home both in developed and developing countries. Such trend brings restaurants, fast food, cafés, cafeterias, canteens and dining halls, catering and any other food service establishment to the forefront of food waste hurdles. A study showed that the hospitality industry raised global food waste by 12% in the last few years. (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959652620329061)
How to decrease food waste in out-of-home dining?
Raising awareness among restaurants and other out-of-home eateries is crucial when trying to tackle food waste – not only that the trash will be less, but the restaurants will save a lot of money too.
First and foremost, every foodservice enterprise should research what and how much food is wasted daily and start from there. A well-organized system is a game-changer, and educated staff will be responsible for implementing these new practices directly.
In the kitchen
Food preparation and its storage have a significant role in decreasing food waste. Preparing the exact amount of food day by day means keeping the restaurant food fresh and tastier while at the same time reducing unnecessary waste.
Also, all the kitchen staff must be familiar with the “first in, first out” principle in the fridge. This way, you prevent the stored food from getting spoiled by using it on time while it’s still fresh and good to go. (https://www.statefoodsafety.com/Resources/Resources/april-cartoon-first-in-first-out-fifo)
Of course, sometimes the food will be at the border of its expiration, so it is good to be creative and think of a new dish consisting of these ingredients. You can promote it as a house specialty or even treat your guests with an extra bite.
Customers often complain about having too large portions served in restaurants. (https://resource.co/article/News/Restaurant_food_waste_due_%E2%80%98too_large%E2%80%99_portions-3175) They cannot finish the entire serving, and so they leave their food on the plate. If you see this regularly happening in your restaurant or cafeteria, it’s a clear sign you need to reduce the portions.
What to do with the leftovers?
Every kitchen produces food scraps and leftovers, for sure. However, you have the option to connect with various organizations that distribute food to the ones in need, even the already made dishes! This practice has a legal background and is regulated and highly encouraged with a Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act passed in 1996. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Emerson_Good_Samaritan_Act_of_1996)
Also, many farmers would love to use your food scraps to feed the animals on their farms. They can use it for high-quality compost as well. It’s a win-win situation.
Another major problem with food waste are single-use packages and straws, disposed of on an enormous scale. The takeaway food packages are mostly made out of plastic and discarded after only a few minutes of using them.
Having your food served on washable packages as much as possible is a way to go. Also, your can altogether remove plastic straws from your establishment or simply substitute the plastic with the ones made out of paper.