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Restaurant industry urged to cut down on food waste

08 | 01 | 13

UK food businesses have been urged to cut down on food waste by addressing how they use their kitchen equipment and changing procedures throughout their restaurants, with Unilever Food Solutions encouraging companies to submit their best waste reduction processes to the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA).

This will give them a chance to be named a winner at the SRA Awards in February 2013.

The Best Food Waste Strategy category, sponsored by Unilever, is the first of its kind to recognise businesses trying to make a reduction in the amount of produce they need to throw out.

Tracey Rogers, managing director of Unilever Food Solutions, said her company feels "passionate" about sponsoring the award, especially in the current climate, where many firms are making an effort to become greener.

"We want to celebrate the operators that are making small changes to the way they work to help the environment and, more importantly, save money," she added.

Mark Linehan, managing director of the SRA, expressed his hope that the award ceremony will spread awareness of environmental issues among UK restaurateurs and catering businesses, while recognising the good work that has already been done in this field.

All operators in the hospitality sector are welcome to enter, ranging from independent pubs to national chains and major catering businesses.

Unilever Food Solutions offers a number of tips about how companies can reduce the amount of food they waste, with former royal chef Chris Barber helping the organisation form its policy.

Mr Barber suggests that using the freezer as much as possible is one way to cut down on the amount of wasted produce encountered, despite the fact that freezing items has fallen out of fashion in recent years.

"Do not fear freezing - I am frequently in Michelin-starred kitchens, and can assure you that frozen back ups are commonplace," he argued.

Furthermore, he suggested that using herbs efficiently is a good way to reduce the levels of food waste seen in a professional kitchen, especially as many businesses will use large quantities of these in a typical working week.

Coriander and parsley are two examples of a plant that can be used in its entirety, with many chefs still picking off the leaves and ignoring the stems.

Leaving the skin on chips is another way to ensure that food is not thrown out unnecessarily, the expert argued.

In addition to minor tweaks like these, Mr Barber indicated that altering the production plan entirely is necessary if a business is to reduce its waste levels significantly.

According to figures from the SRA, an average of 0.48kg of food waste is produced per diner, adding up to a major amount over a typical week.

Some 65 per cent of this comes from preparation, meaning that changes to how meals are produced is the most effective way to reduce the amount of waste being thrown out.

The SRA estimates that an average restaurant reducing its waste by 20 per cent could generate savings of around £2,000.ADNFCR-16001031-ID-801518412-ADNFCR

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