In North America, we produce an estimated [link 1] 70 billion tons of food waste each year. That’s a lot of perfectly good grub that gets tossed out, and a significant big chunk of that figure is from restaurants.

 

But why should you care, as long as you consistently have the resources you need to keep your customers happy? It turns out your customers care about food waste. According to a survey conducted by [link 2] Unilever, an estimated 72 percent of restaurant-goers say that they are concerned about how restaurants handle food waste.

 

But you don’t have to offer customers a free meal for becoming a member of the clean plates club. You can take steps in reducing the amount of food waste your restaurant produces:

  • Track the amount of food you throw away. Require staff members to track what they're discarding during shifts. Tracking should include the food type and quantity.
  • Categorize the waste. Itemize the various food and accessories that are being thrown-away into the following categories:
    • Food that doesn’t leave the kitchen
    • Food that is not eaten by the customer
    • Items that are not edible, such as paper or plastic utensils and containers
  • Look at your inventory. See to it that you’re not ordering too much of a particular item and attempt to reduce the size of your orders accordingly.
  • Audit storage systems. If there are perishable foods that seem to go bad before you’re able to use them, you may need to look into alternatives for perishable food storage.
  • Repurpose ingredients. Try to create ways in which you can reuse certain items that you would typically just put in the trash. Make croutons out of day-old bread.
  • Organize your stock. Be sure your staff is using older ingredients before brand new ones. Accomplish this by labeling items that have been in the freezer for a set amount of time with a 'use first' sticker.

Donate. Contact local food banks and see what you can do for them. More often than not, they are excited and eager to take contributions from a restaurant.

 

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