Some of Britain’s best-known restaurants have thrown their weight behind a news outlet on Sunday’s mission to make taking home leftovers a normal part of dining out.
Pizza Express, Wagamama, Frankie & Benny’s, Franco Manca, Chiquito, The Real Greek, Coppa Club, Tavolino and the D&D London group of restaurants, which include Quaglino’s, where the Queen has eaten, have all promised to do more to promote take home doggy bags to their customers, either by training staff or updating their menus.
It’s a major boost for their War On Food Waste campaign, which is calling on households, retailers and eateries to tackle this hidden environmental disaster.
Food waste accounts for a fifth of Britain’s greenhouse gas emissions. Yet every year hospitality firms bin the equivalent of 1.3 billion meals, according to the charity Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP).
About a third of this wasted food, the equivalent of 430 million meals, is scraped from plates into the bin when diners don’t finish their orders.
An MoS investigation covering more than 20 major dining chains, which account for thousands of restaurants and pubs, discovered venues are routinely failing to encourage customers to taken uneaten food home.
Although almost all restaurants do provide doggy bags if required, hardly any tells staff to make customers aware of this option at the end of their meals, and none of the chains includes a note on their menus to tell patrons that they can ask for a take-home box.
In the worst instance of poor practice, Whetherspoon pubs refuse to offer take-home doggy bags at all. Mitchells & Butlers, which operate Harvester, Toby Carvery, Miller & Carter and Browns at more than 1,700 venues across the United Kingdom, let individual managers determine whether to provide doggy bags.
A Wetherspoon spokesperson maintained there wasn’t a demand from customers for a take-home option. Yet a study for a news outlet discovered that an amazing 81 per cent of the public want all establishments to offer doggy bags as standard practice.
Crucially, the study of 1,608 people by Deltapoll also revealed that although we like the idea, about half of us have never asked to take home uneaten food from a restaurant. Experts said this is due to the British instinct to avoid causing a fuss.
Yet in the US, doggy bags have been commonplace for decades.
The practice started during the Second World War when pet owners were encouraged to feed their pets with table scraps due to food deficits.
Now doggy bags are usually printed on menus or handed out by waiting staff as part of a normal service.
However, if you don’t want to waste food, how about not ordering more than you can eat in the first place? However, if you order pizza, it’s almost inevitable that you won’t eat it all – leftover pizza is simple to reheat or good cold.
But some people like to order more so that they can take it home so they have something for breakfast or lunch the following day, and some people are just a little more concerned about their well-being and weight because we eat to survive, not the other way round.
And of course, it should be normal to take home what you paid for, and restaurants, cooks and waiting staff aren’t the standard-bearers of societal norms.
It isn’t the norm in the United Kingdom, but it should be, although I guess some people might think that they will be looked at as cheap trash, even if they were to take a doggy bag home from a party, and people would probably die of shock if they saw people asking to take home a half-eaten steak or lobster.