Throughout the world, food wastage has become something of an epidemic, with one-third of all the food produced globally being spoiled or wasted. Research has shown that Americans throw away around 40% of the food they buy, yet in 2013, a study uncovered that 49.1 million Americans were currently living without reasonable access to nutritious and safe food.
When it comes to managing the problem of food-based waste, restaurants have an even more significant problem than the average person - as they deal with huge amounts of food every day. So how do you ensure that you have enough food in your premises to help your business thrive, yet not so much that you're contributing to the growing problem of wasted food throughout the world? It's a tough act to balance, but there are some tips that could help you on your quest to stamp out waste in your organization.
1. Don't Overbuy Fresh Produce
If you move through a lot of fresh produce every day when dealing with customer orders, then you're going to need a lot of produce in your kitchen, ready and available to use. However, this doesn't mean that you should purchase a larger amount than normal when your vendor offers you discounts and sales. Buying enough to supply your restaurant is one thing, but if you buy more than you can reasonably use before it spoils, not only are you wasting money, but you're wasting vital food too.
2. Be Precise When Placing Orders
If you want to take advantage of good prices, but you can't have all of your food peaking at the same time, it is possible to ask some vendors whether you can have products in various stages of ripeness - this will help to prolong the life of your produce and ensure that a large portion of your purchase isn't simply thrown away.
3. Maintain a Culture of Temperature Control
Throughout your kitchen, every member of staff should know the proper protocol for temperature control, in everything from cooking, to storing foods. A temperature probe should be an automatic feature in your kitchen, to ensure that no items are given to customers after they have reached the "danger zone". When storing food, make sure that your refrigerators are at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below, and that your freezers are at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or below.
4. Make Sure your Freezer and Refrigerator Are Working Properly
If your freezer and refrigerator did not come equipped with an internal thermometer as standard, make sure to purchase one as quickly as possible, so that you can constantly monitor the performance of your equipment. A drop below essential temperatures could indicate that all of the food stored within your refrigerator is no longer safe for consumption.
5. Keep all Items Organized and Labelled
In a commercial kitchen, organization is often key. Use food labels where possible to ensure that you can easily and quickly identify important details when dealing with a fast-paced organization. Your labels should include information such as what the item is, when it arrived, and when you need to use it by. Once the labels are applied to your food products, make sure you use the "First in, First Out", storage method, by placing newer arrivals behind older items, and using the older products first.
6. Do Not Store Fruit and Vegetables Together
When storing fresh produce in the kitchen, remember that fruit and vegetables should be kept separate from one another. Fruit gives off higher-than-usual levels of ethylene - a common ripening agent. This means that having fruit near your vegetables could prematurely spoil the surrounding produce.
7. Anticipate and Create
If the evidence in your restaurant suggests that you're not going to sell enough of a specific item before it goes out of date, or spoils, then you might consider creating a temporary pricing special that helps you make the most of the product and still achieve some profit. After all, being able to sell as much as you can of that item - even at a lower price, is much better than leaving the item to go unused.