A Rant on Food Waste

Apr 24, 2012 by

With a large percentage of the world’s population suffering from hunger and malnutrition you would think that the western world would be aware and cognisant of food waste.  You would also think that in times of recession people would be even more conscious.  Well you would think!  However, sadly this does not appear to be so.  For a good number of years including the last few depressing ones, I have been horrified at the amount of waste by individuals and by businesses.  I have seen and heard of people who open their fridge; look at an item and the “use by” or even “sell by” date and casually throw the item in the bin.  Without even opening it or smelling it……

Since I have had contact with chefs, I have also been appalled at the waste in hotel and restaurant kitchens.  My son and my ex-partner – both chefs, have brought me meat and fish trimmings for my dogs.  I was always delighted to receive them, however, increasingly my delight turned to horror at the waste of perfectly good meat.  Huge long pieces trimmed off a fillet of beef.  Equally long pieces cut off a salmon.  These “trimmings” included perfectly lean meat that with a bit of actual trimming could have been minced and turned into burgers, lasagnes, shepherd’s pies, fish cakes etc.  A daily budget item on a menu or a special.

I often wonder are managers and owners aware of this or do they approve of it.  Apart from the sheer, wanton waste there is a waste disposal cost.  Is it a case of they do not have the manpower to put in the few hours it would take every week or is it just laziness?   Are head chefs not held accountable for waste?  Can businesses afford to literally throw food away?  I think not; but I am constantly hearing how hard it is to be profitable in a food business, with the excessive costs such as wages, rates, utilities etc.

I have also heard that food businesses cannot donate excess or “waste” food to homeless shelters or the poor in case they are sued for causing food poisoning. Now don’t even get me started on how ridiculous our rules on food safety have become, because I think they are a lot to blame for the-check- the-date-and-bin-it brigade.  The human constitution has evolved to withstand a substantial onslaught from germs.  If we hadn’t we would have been wiped out a long time ago.  Whatever happened to common sense?  If it looks bad and smells bad then the chances are it is bad.  If not; rely on your taste buds especially if you know your fridge is at the correct temperature and you have handled it correctly from the time you purchased it.  I know one thing – it works for me. 

Tags: Food Waste  Food Reuse  Food

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  1. One of the best bargains I got was in the 'reduced' department – a parsley plant (growing I might add) which was past its 'sell by' date, I planted it in my greenhouse last summer and its still yielding plentiful amounts of parsley months later. Sell by dates are a joke

  2. It makes me so mad and sad!

  3. So with you on this! It is appalling the amount of waste! We approached a local supplier of vegetables to the catering business and asked for the 'waste', peelings, etc for pigs – answer was no. Health & Safety insists the 'waste' is doused in bleach and dumped!

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