What is a Food Waste Log?
Food waste log is a checklist recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as part of their Sustainable Materials Management Program. The program aims to reduce the environmental impact of food waste. The checklist does not only focus on reducing wasted food but also the packaging used for food.
Food waste has become a big problem worldwide. In 2018 alone, 42.8 million tons of food ended up in landfills. Furthermore, between 4 and 10 percent of food purchases by restaurants end up in trash bins even before they are served.
Although keeping a food waste log isn’t an essential component of a brc audit food safety audit, by using a waste log, we can reduce food waste and manage food sustainably. Consequently, consumers and businesses will save money and preserve food resources for future generations.
This article covers the following topics:
The Food Waste Reduction Strategy
Waste prevention is the most effective method to reduce the environmental impact of wasted food. It stops the creation of unneeded materials. It also saves money spent on purchasing and handling food, and waste disposal.
The waste log contains checklists that monitor food movement from the time it was purchased to the time it reached the table. The recommended actions that can be derived from this are as follows:
1. Avoid Over-Purchase
Create a system that will help you monitor items that have been purchased in excess. Also, implement a purchasing system where you only buy materials and ingredients needed when needed.
2. Proper Food Storage
Establish a first in – first out policy. Use the products or ingredients that came in first. Ensure that the products are stored under the proper conditions, such as temperature. Also label them appropriately and place them where employees can find them. Make sure that your products and fridges are always the correct temperature by using a food temperature log template. Lastly, keep track of your inventory levels to determine what is needed.
3. Food Repurposing
Following proper food handling and storage will help consumers and businesses save money and reduce waste. Find creative ways to repurpose leftovers and use them for other dishes. To make this work, you need to be flexible with your menu planning, always ready to change your menu based on what’s available at the moment.
4. Menu Planning
A restaurant waste log should include tracking the food that customers often leave uneaten. Or to monitor which food is sent back to the kitchen. Awareness allows managers to modify the menu to satisfy their customers and reduce waste at the same time.
Even small food items, such as garnishes, adds to the piling problem of food waste. In the United States alone, $23 million worth of garnishes is wasted. To avoid such waste, practice an “ask first” policy — don’t put it on the plate unless the customer asks for it. Also, avoid using garnishes that are rarely eaten by consumers.
6. Removing Trays
Studies have shown that buffet-style dining produces more food waste than a la carte or table d’hôte dining. They also revealed that people get more food when using trays. On the contrary, when the trays were removed, people got smaller food servings.
7. Train Staff
Reducing food waste by handling a food waste log is not just the job of managers but the whole staff. Everyone in the service staff should be trained to store, handle, prepare, and dispose of food. Proper training at every level ensures that food handling protocols are followed even when the manager is absent.
8. Educate Guests
Educating guests about food waste means encouraging them to order only the food they can handle. In buffet-style dining, restaurants can post signs that encourage people to take only what they need.
Food Waste Diversion Strategy
Food waste diversion is repurposing food surplus instead of throwing it away in landfills. Those who participate receive tax benefits to encourage them further. Aside from that, restaurants also receive “green certification”.
Here are some food waste diversion strategies you can adopt with your waste log:
1. Donate to Food Banks / Drives
There’s a lot of food going to waste. But more people are still food insecure. According to the United Nations. 8.9 percent of the world’s population are hungry — that’s 690 people all over the world. So instead of throwing away surplus food, donate it to food banks. You can receive a tax break or deduction when you donate food. Check what your government’s provision is regarding food donations.
2. Feed Animals
Food surplus that is not fit for human consumption anymore can be fed to animals. Food is usually sent to farmers who need food scraps to feed their animals. Check with your local government if they have specific regulations for this.
3. Convert to Fuel
Used fryer oil, grease, or fats can be converted into biofuel. Check if there are rendering facilities or biodiesel manufacturers near your area. Most of these companies also offer free pick-up services.
If used oil can be converted to biofuel, rotting fruit, vegetables, and other food wastes can be converted into fertilizer. Food compost can also be used as a soil conditioner, top-dressing of turf, or mulches. Check with your local waste hauler if they offer organic waste collection. Some even offer discounts for compostable waste.
5. Anaerobic Digestion
Anaerobic digestion is a process where bacteria break down organic matter, such as food waste or animal manure devoid of oxygen. The finished product generates renewable energy and excellent soil amendment.
How a digital tool helps with the waste log
Food waste impacts not only the food industry but also the environment and the communities it serves. The first step to solving this problem is to conduct food waste audits. By using daily food waste logs, food businesses can better understand how to minimize waste and reduce their environmental footprint.
With Lumiform, a flexible and mobile tool for inspections and audits, you can use digital food waste logs to conduct efficient and well-documented food waste audits. With the Lumiform mobile inspection app, food industry managers can:
- Enforce a paperless food waste audit process using digital food waste logs – that saves additional waste.
- Create digital checklists in no time using the innovative form builder and always keep them up to date.
- Easily capture waste management photos as a visual reference for future comparison.
- Assign audits and corrective actions to employees and track their completion.
- Automatically generate more comprehensive food waste reports and share them immediately with management.
- Instantly analyze data from waste logs and use the results to improve processes.
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