Food Loss Prevention Options for Restaurants
Below is a list of ideas and activities that restaurants may consider implementing to help prevent food loss
and waste. Contact your local EPA representative for log sheets, signs, and other tools.
~	Perform a food waste audit. See what's being thrown out and why.
o Pick a day and gather a few extra staff members, buckets, log sheet and a weight scale. Stand at
the trash can(s) and record what is being thrown out, how much is being discarded and the
reason the food is being disposed (ask your customers why they threw out food!),
o In the kitchen, have only one food waste trash can and provide each staff member a small
container to fill with food waste at their station. Before they empty their container, have staff
weigh it and record the amount, type and reason the waste is being discarded on a log sheet
located near the trash can.
o Use this information to adjust menus, purchasing and portion size.
~	Call a meeting to discuss food waste prevention strategies with kitchen staff. Get their thoughts and
ideas.
Prep and Storage Tips
~	Reduce batch sizes. Batch cooking is preparing meals ahead of time and storing them for future use.
~	Use cook-to-order instead of bulk-cooking either all day or toward the end of the day.
~	Incorporate leftovers from the day before. Steak one day can be used for beef stew the next day.
~	Train staff on knife skills to make more efficient knife cuts to use more of the food being prepared.
~	Use as much of the food as possible. Cook up carrot greens and don't peel cucumbers or potatoes.
~	Reconstitute stalky vegetables that have wilted by immersing them in warm water (100F) for 15
minutes.
~	Freeze surplus and fresh fruits and veggies near the end of peak freshness for later use instead of
throwing them away.
~	Marinate meats to extend their shelf life for a few more days.
~	Finish preparation at the line. Do not finish the food item until it's ready to go on the line so you can
more easily use leftover ingredients in different recipes later.
~	Different foods like different storage conditions. Refresh staff on storage techniques for different
foods (e.g., don't store tomatoes and lettuce in the same container or near each other).
~	Use see-through storage containers to allow staff to see what is available and to keep an eye on
freshness.
~	Eliminate garnishes that typically don't get eaten.
United States Environmental Protection Agency (5305P)
Washington, DC 20460
EPA-530-F-16-019-C
August 2016
For more information, including who
your local EPA representative is, visit:

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Food Loss Prevention Options for Restaurants
Purchasing Tips
~	Use reusable bottles instead of single use condiment packets.
~	Buy bruised or odd shaped/sized produce at a discount.
~	Ask for your suppliers' policies for food waste. Simply inquiring will show suppliers it's a priority.
~	Reach out to other businesses to exchange ideas for source reduction techniques to reduce wasted
food.
~	Do regular inventory checks or consider increasing the frequency to reduce spoilage.
~	Buy local foods to minimize environmental impacts through reduced storage time and transportation.
Serving Tips
~	If you're a buffet restaurant, go trayless. Removing trays can reduce wasted food by limiting
customers to take only what can fit on their plate and to make a conscious decision to go back for
more.
~	If you're a buffet restaurant, consider a "pay-per-item" system instead of "all-you-can-eat" system.
~	Use smaller plates, bowls and serving scoops to discourage over-plating and unnecessary waste.
~	Offer different meal sizes and portions. Don't limit small portions to just children.
~	Don't automatically put bread or chips and salsa on the table when customers sit down. Ask them if
they would like these items.
~	Ask if a customer wants a side item, instead of automatically providing sides.
Engaging with Customers Tips
~	Provide taste samples. Allow customers to try foods before they buy them.
~	Educate customers on how to minimize food waste and why they should care.
~	Offer to-go containers and encourage customers to take their leftover food with them.
United States Environmental Protection Agency (5305P)
Washington, DC 20460
EPA-530-F-16-019-C
August 2016
For more information, including who
your local EPA representative is, visit:

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