Waste not, want not: Should takeaways say NO to free salad?

Takeaway food establishments throughout the UK are being urged to review their approach to garnishes as startling new research reveals that the vast majority of complimentary side salads are being thrown away.

Waste management firm Business Waste conducted a survey of 1459 takeaway customers at establishments across the country to find out exactly what they did with the free bags of salad given away as an accompaniment to curries or kebabs.

More than half (56%) of respondents throw the salad in the bin without opening it, 30% put it in the fridge and throw it away later, and 14% leave it in the shop or give it back to the delivery driver. Shockingly, 0% of takeaway-goers said they actually eat the salad.

The primary reason given for this reluctance to eat salads from takeaways was the perception that there is probably something wrong with it, or that it has been prepared in an unhygienic kitchen.

“We tried to find out who eats these salads, and we found literally nobody prepared to confess that they did,” said Business Waste spokesman Mark Hall, “In our opinion, they’re nothing but a huge waste of food – thousands of tons going to waste.”

Plastic bags

Hall said takeaways could easily slash waste by simply asking if the customer actually wants it. “It’s a very simple solution, and one that will save food establishments money and puts an end to the thousands of tons of food wasted every year.”

Another form of wastage caused by this disregard for salads is in the plastic bags they are served in. “It’s straight to landfill for most of them, and that’s something we just can’t keep doing these days,” added Hall.

“A plastic bag’s probably not the best way to present a salad. Customers have a mental image of the food being stuffed in there by bare hand, which it most certainly isn’t. But it’s a hard image for most people to shake.”
“Our message is loud and clear – Say ‘no’ to salad.”

Food security and conservation of resources has become ever-important to the national economy, with the most recent figures from the ‘Love Food Hate Waste’ campaign revealing that around 15 million tonnes of food is thrown away every year, almost 50% of which comes from our homes.

Luke Nicholls

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