The subject of protecting the planet has never been more high-profile than it is today. There is much discussion about the pollution that is causing so much damage to the environment. Another concern, which people may not be as aware of, is the wastage of food.
Across the globe, around 1.3 billion tonnes of food are wasted each year. In the UK alone, the food sector causes 0.4 million tons of avoidable food waste annually. The good news is that there are steps which can be taken in commercial kitchens in order to help reduce this waste.
Using perishable goods as quickly as possible
One of the biggest current restaurant trends is to either grow produce on site, or source fresh local produce. Any restaurant that does this needs to pay careful attention to the date when produce is harvested. This is because items such as fruit and vegetables have a shorter shelf life when they are fresh compared to when they are preserved. This means that they need to be utilised as soon as possible, in order to prevent waste.
Making use of vacuum packing
There has been much discussion over the use of packaging in the food industry over recent months. While it’s true that plastic packaging can cause damage to the environment if overused, there is a good argument for using a vacuum pack machine. You only need to compare the environmental effects of packaging compared to waste to see why this is the case. For every ton of waste, 3.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide are released without resulting products being put to good use. In the case of packaging, it’s estimated that 1-2 tonnes of carbon emissions are caused. It’s easy to see that the careful use of vacuum packaging can be beneficial when it helps to reduce food waste.
Storing food in the correct manner
In order to reduce waste as much as possible, food needs to be stored in the correct way. For instance, the temperature in a refrigerator needs to be below 40 degrees Fahrenheit in order for food to be maintained in a safe condition. In a freezer, the temperature should be below 0 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s a good idea, for any restaurant or food outlet to have access to a generator. This enables them to keep food stored effectively even if there is a power outage. Keeping track of when each food is stored by righting down the date on packaging is important to use food products before they are spoiled.
Making best use of leftover food
There are times when restaurants and food outlets have leftover food. This food should never be wasted. There are ways of utilising it to good advantage.
- Donate leftover food to charity.
Charities are being created that accept leftover food from restaurants and food outlets. This food is then distributed to people who need it. This is a far better option than throwing out the leftover food from a kitchen at the end of the day.
- Give leftover food to employees.
There may not be a charity in the area that takes leftover food. This does not mean that leftovers have to be thrown away. It’s a good idea for restaurants to offer leftover food to employees. As long as the food is safe to eat, this is a good way of helping people to save money, as well as reducing the amount of waste produced by the restaurant.
- Compost leftover food
For restaurants that grow their own produce, composting leftover food can be a good idea. This is due to the fact that organic compost is safe and effective to use. Creating compost in this way also helps to make good use of leftovers rather than simply throwing them away as waste.
At a time when we are becoming more aware of how important it is to protect the planet, restaurants and food outlets should be concerned with reducing the amount of waste they produce. There are ways in which this can happen. Fresh produce needs to be used as soon as possible so that it does not become inedible. Produce also needs to be stored correctly, so that it remains safe to eat for as long as possible. Vacuum packing can be used responsibly in order to keep food fresh and safe to eat. If there are any leftovers of food at the end of the day, in a commercial kitchen, they should be disposed of responsibly. Giving the leftovers to charity or employees, or using them for compost, helps to reduce the amount of avoidable waste that is produced.