Do Restaurants 'Recycle' Uneaten Food?

What happens when you go to a restaurant and they give you bread that you don’t eat? Are we supposed to believe that they just throw it out and make a fresh loaf for the next customer?? What happens when they give you a great big salad, so big that 2 people couldn’t possibly eat all of it- could they be ‘recycling’ the unused portion???

And what’s the deal with the condiments? Am I really supposed to believe that I am so lucky that I always get a brand new bottle of ketchup and never a half-empty one?? And when you are served salsa, do you suppose they make a fresh bowl for every customer, even though 90% of it gets left over???

Supposedly none of that food is reused. If the restaurant you are visiting is privately owned there might be an incentive for them to reuse unused portions. Although, if the health department caught on to that, they would be out of business. As far as the common commercialized restaurants go, I think they just throw the food out. Underpaid, overworked staff would have little incentive to increase the profit of their masters by recycling food. That’s just my opinion.

I think that’s unlikely in most places. They’d probably rack up a violation and a fine, close for a day or so while they become compliant and go on the local Health Department’s enforcement list (for closer scrutiny for a bit).

When I worked in restaurants many years ago, we refilled the ketchup bottles every night.

I actually wasn’t referring to filling ketchup bottles. In my mind, that is harmless. Reusing food is where a health violation would arise.

Bottled condiments are usually refilled and reused because by pouring them out, you do not contaminate the contents.

Everything else is pitched out by law. You may not reuse food. Even a basket of untouched bread might have been fondled by someone with dirty hands at the table. Some restaurants have bins for used food and a farmer or someone comes by daily to collect the mess and use it to slop pigs with. There is an enormous amount of waste in the restaurant community, but that is expected. Even in fine restaurants, in the kitchen alone, there is a lot of waste.

Food that has been partially consumed, like a big salad, may not be reused for parts of it has touched peoples lips. Let the health inspectors ever find out that a place is reusing food and there will be major fines!

Now, it might go on in some small hole in the wall restaurants, but they had better not be caught. I know of a BBQ place at the edge of a poor minority section of town that secretly used to supplement its meat supply with freshly killed raccoon or opossum people would bring into the back door. It is no longer in operation.

Some people operate a back yard BBQ business out of their homes, next to a main highway, where they would sell food over their fence and with a place like that, you take your chances as to what they are using for meat.

When I worked in a restaurant, we threw out the old salsa but just added to the ketchup bottles.

If the food hasn’t been nibbled on, and it’s good, there’s a good chance that it’ll get “recycled” by the kitchen staff, who may wrap it up and take it home to eat later. (Us waiters weren’t immune to a bit of “recycling” either.) I wouldn’t be surprised if some cost-cutting type of place occasionally did resuse stuff, but I’ve never seen it personally. We really did just throw it out.

I restaurant in UK was caught doing this after a waiter told the authorities. What they were doing was getting the bits of meat and stuff that where left uneaten, cleaning them up, and reusing them. I think they were closed down.

BrianMc- “I actually wasn’t referring to filling ketchup bottles. In my mind, that is harmless.

Are you serious?

If ketchup bottles are routinely refilled, there is no telling how OLD the contents at the bottom of the bottle are. Keep in mind that people will use their knife to cut up meat, then insert it into the ketchup bottle to loosen it up so they can pour it. This transfers meat AND saliva into the bottle, where it putrifies over time.

Yep it’s disgusting and would result in severe penalties for the owner of the restaurant. Nuff said.

I saw one of the “hidden camera” topics on one of those prime
time news magazines (20/20, 60 minutes, Dateline, one of those)
where an under-cover reporter worked in the kitchen.

Salads and other foods that went all soft from not being sold in
time were routinely cooked and stuffed into crab shells,
a slice of tomato which fell on the floor was simply rinsed off and
put on the meal,
meat that turned green was turned into stew,

Things that are rotten are routinely cooked harder with extra spices.

If you can’t recognize individual ingredients as whole and fresh…


Actually, I was serious. I was considering that this practice would involve common sense. If the ketchup looks nasty, throw it out. Restaurant workers aren’t idiots. They just have yet to find a better profession.

There is no common sense in recycling food which has been out on a table. Trust me.

Was just referring to ketchup and mustard. Condiments. If they reuse actually food, they should be out of business.

Actual food… not acutally food. Considering the knitpicking around here, I thought I would correct myself first.

ketchup and mustard are food too. Anyone could have picked their nose and flicked it into the ketchup.

Are you suggesting that all Ketchup and Mustard containers should be replaced after every customer just in case some asshole decided to put a booger in it? That makes no sense. The booger transferring asshole would have to be mentally ill, and I don’t see that happening often.

Just a slight off target flick is all it takes…

I don’t know what ketchup you use in Scotland. Here in the States it is normally Heinz, it has a lid and everything. You would have to intentionally put something in it.

Ok, i’m just being finicky! But in some places you get the ketchup and stuff in little open containers, with a spoon.

Slight Hijack…

Several years ago the company I work for had a business function that had a catered lunch, buffet style. It was a bit on unusual as it was held at a banquet hall ran by the caterer’s, rather than at our company’s premesis (we’re a small company). Anyway, after lunch there was quite a bit of food left. A co-worker wanted to take some back and asked a hostess for a “to go” container. Now keep in mind that our company paid for all of the food and that this wasn’t a normal restraunt open to the public. The manager came back and explained to my co-worker that state regulations (Illinois) prohibited food that was served “communaly” (i.e., buffet style) from being taken off the premesis. This didn’t make any sense to us. If it was sanitary enough to eat there, why would it be any less sanitary to eat at home? To be fair, the manager didn’t say that was the reason for the regulation… but can anyone make any sense of this? I mean its our food, we paid for it, but they wouldn’t let us take it with us and they woukd throw it out anyway. I just couldn’t figure that one out.