11 tips for working with kitchen staff and food waste regulations

Why is staff engagement critical if you run a commercial kitchen?

Now we’re in a brave new world of almost zero tolerance on food waste it’s important from a kitchen management point of view as well as compliance to understand why waste is bad news. The most eloquent explanation of the cost of food waste is demonstrated in this video:

Food wasted equals money wasted which is a good motivator. The main financial headlines are:
* The hospitality sector loses £722m per year in avoidable waste
* This translates to 50p per meal in the UK
* Avoidable food waste costs could rise to a wopping £3bn in 2016 unless addressed

Translating these figures into quantities of food waste:
* Equals 3.4 million tonnes of food waste produced by hotels, pubs, restaurants and quick-service restaurants annually in the UK
* And an estimated 130,000 tonnes of food wasted from the preparation of ready to serve meals

How can you work with staff to reduce food waste?

Here are some low-hanging fruit (pun intended) that you can use to reduce avoidable waste and develop a strong recycling ethos in your team:

Tips for getting started:

  1. Make sure you can recycle – it sounds obvious but ensure you’re set up for recycling with the appropriate bins in place.
  2. Create a team – identify people who are enthusiastic about recycling. It will help if they’re also responsible for the preparation of meals.
  3. Make a plan – develop and review progress regularly, noting quantities of food waste produced.
  4. Change menu to reduce leftovers – identify food which is often left uneaten and take it off the menu.
  5. Change plate size or offer ‘doggy-bags’ – whilst bigger portions may attract customers if food is left on the plate then that’s money down the drain.
  6. Store fruit and vegetables properly – storage in the right way, with suitable containers in the appropriate place, will significantly extend the life of fruit and veg.

The last four tips are focused around the welfare of staff which whilst not directly linked to food waste will have an impact on recycling rates because happy staff are more likely to perform better and remain engaged with the company mission.

Tips for boosting staff productivity:

  1. Overheating – working for long periods in hot environments leads to more staff sickness. Use more efficient equipment to reduce the temperature in the kitchen.
  2. Ventilation – as above but particularly important for staff with respiratory conditions.
  3. Lighting – avoid artificial lighting and use natural light as much as possible.
  4. Share good stories – thank staff for their efforts and spread the message within the industry.

Further useful resources:

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