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If you are in the hospitality business, feedback from your front-of-house staff and customers can help you avoid food waste.

Your serving staff, floor staff, waitresses and waiters are crucial to the success of your food waste avoidance plan. They are the key to reducing leftover food waste on plates and receiving instant feedback.

  • Ask your front-of-house staff to observe the patterns of items that are consistently returned uneaten, such as toast, salad vegetables, garnishes or condiments.
  • Use their observations and knowledge about your customers to review your menus, plating up (plate design) and portion sizes.
  • Make sure your serving staff know the correct serving sizes for all the meals on your menu, and can answer customers' questions about the food you are serving.
  • Consider allowing customers to take their own plate leftovers home with them ('doggy bags'). If you do allow doggy bags, make sure your staff remember to offer this option to customers and provide take-away containers.
  • Spread the word. Tell your customers your organisation is actively avoiding food waste and thank them for their support. Knowing this, and understanding why food waste matters, can increase your customers' satisfaction and loyalty.

Doggy bags

'Doggy bag' is the term used for a container of food left over from a customer's restaurant meal, which is taken home by that customer.

It's up to you to decide whether you wish to offer your customers doggy bags. The Food Act 2003 does not prevent restaurants from providing doggy bags, but there is no legal requirement for restaurants to do so. If customers do take food home, safe storage and handling becomes their responsibility.

  • Customers can take along their own food container (doggy bag) to take leftover food home.
  • If you provide the food container, use only new, unused, food-grade containers.
  • Remind the customer to put the food in the fridge as soon as they arrive home.
  • Placing a sticker on the container with friendly information about food safety may be helpful, and it could be a great way to promote your business.

Check with the NSW Food Authority for more information about doggy bags.

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