Specialty Food Magazine

Summer 2018

Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

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1. Determine your goals. Before literally digging into your gar- bage, you should decide what you'd like to accomplish by conducting a food waste audit, noted McBride. "You don't want to start diving into the trash without understanding what you're looking for since it's going to be messy and you won't get the results you [want]," she said. "Some sample goals would be determining 'what is the largest driver of food waste? Is it pre-production? Is it plate waste?' or determine the largest volume of food waste if you're trying to tackle it from a weight perspective." If you are told by your compost hauler, for instance, that you have 3,000 pounds a month of organic food waste, an audit can help you understand that 500 pounds comes from rotten tomatoes, 500 is from stale bread, and maybe 2,000 pounds is from half-eaten food from customers. "Better understanding your waste stream will allow you to put measures into place to reduce it," said McBride. 2. Gather your materials. A space large enough to allow for sorting of several bags is essential. "Since an audit can provide a snap- shot in time, you're typically going to want to pull a few different bags from the same week," suggested McBride. You'll also need a large table for sorting, various buckets to categorize waste by type, protective gear, and a scale to weigh waste materials. 3. Sort and separate. The 'grunt work' portion of an audit involves sorting and separating waste into different types, depending on your goal. WWF conducted an audit of a hotel's buffet operation that included 12 buffet lines and served 800 people. For this particu- lar audit, waste was sorted by plate waste, spoiled food, unrecover- able food (food that was set out on a buffet so therefore couldn't be recovered for another purpose), and recoverable food. " This was food that was prepped that they either fired or didn't fire but could still be recovered since it was not put out on the buffet," explained McBride. Instead of tossing recoverable food, the WWF suggests that businesses follow the Environmental Protection Agency's Food Recovery Hierarchy, whose top levels represent the most benefit for the environment, society, and the economy (see illustration). 4. Weigh and record waste. After sorting, food waste auditors should weigh waste, and indicate how much of that weight might be influenced by water. "If it's soggy or dried out, that will inform the calculation. So, in addition to weighing you might want to take a volume measure," said McBride, adding that it's important to take detailed notes about each pile of waste as well as photos that can be used to both analyze the waste and for comparison purposes in the future. 5. Analyze the waste. " This is the most important step and it's what you can use to develop the insights that will drive your strategy," said McBride. WWF's hotel buffet audit revealed that 770 pounds of food, or 54 percent of prepared food, had been eaten. Of the 46 percent of food that wasn't eaten, 26 percent was deemed recoverable. Plate waste made up another 12 percent of food that was not eaten, indi- cating that guests took more food than they could consume, or that the food wasn't particularly palatable to the group. Food that was put out on the buffet and couldn't be reused made up 8 percent of the total. "Most of that was fish and chicken, which was unfortunate from an impact standpoint from an environmental organization," said McBride. "And then also bread and dessert." The hotel is reevaluating portion sizing for events as a result of the findings, she explained. For example, it had been serving 2.2 rolls per person but is trying to reduce that to two rolls or less per person. She encourages other food suppliers to get a handle on their waste stream and take strategic action. "You're likely going to have some unrecoverable waste at the end, but if you strive for 2 percent or 3 percent, that would be ideal," she noted. Julie Gallagher is managing editor of Specialty Food Magazine. Food Recovery Hierarchy 134 ❘ SPECIALTY FOOD MAGAZINE specialtyfood.com "Better understanding your waste stream will allow you to put measures into place to reduce it." WWF recommends that businesses follow the EPA's food recovery hierarchy.

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