Corralling Food Donation Myths

This article in Idaho’s Twin Falls Times-News provides insight into why restaurants think waste is “inevitable.”

Unfortunately, the piece’s author allowed two common myths to go unchallenged. First, that food recovery groups won’t keep donated food at the right temperature, allowing it to dip into the bacteria danger zone. Most food recovery groups employ refrigerated trucks with drivers trained in food safety.

photo by Allyson Kalea (via Flickr)Second, the Golden Corral assistant manager said that the restaurant didn’t donate leftovers because the restaurant was liable for illnesses resulting from its charity. Not true. Like all restaurants in the United States, the Twin Falls Golden Corral is protected by the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act

After that, though, the article provides some nice nuggets. Golden Corral throws away its fried food after 30 minutes on the buffet. Ditto for Little Caesar’s pre-made pizzas. A local pizza buffet chain Idaho Pizza Company allows employees to eat the pies that are perfectly safe, but “not presentable to the customers” after 45 minutes.

Yet, Golden Corral and Little Caesar’s both discard their food. Their rationale for discarding the food drives me crazy:

At Golden Corral, letting employees take leftover food is out of the question, Toothman said. “I can’t start that practice only because (if) they take it home, they think it’s OK to take it home anytime,” he said.

Finally, we learn that both pizza places throw away five to ten pies per day. Meanwhile, 12 percent of buffet food is trashed without being served at Golden Corral and that doesn’t include plate waste. That number didn’t bother the manager, as he considers it the cost of doing business:

“If you make somebody sick you’re not going to have any more business,” he said. “People have long memories when it comes to stuff like that.”

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