Understanding your state’s food waste laws is essential for every commercial kitchen operation. Learn more about the laws and simple best practices to implement in your prep stations to reduce food waste.

New Regulations

California is joining the increasing number of states that have enacted regulations banning food waste from landfills. In the final step to bringing the farm-to-fork movement full circle, Assembly Bill 1826 is set to take effect in 2016. Beginning in April of that year, commercial kitchens producing more than 200 tons of food waste annually will need to adhere to this law. Separating food scraps and trimmings will be implemented gradually for smaller restaurants in the coming years. By 2020, Assembly Bill 1826 will be in full effect for all commercial kitchens.

Composting reduces greenhouse gasses produced by organic matter decomposing in landfills. The resulting product protects soil from erosion, increases water retention and reduces the need for chemical fertilizers.

Food Waste Best Practices

Examine Your Menu
Identify which menu items usually have the most leftovers and focus on reducing portion sizes accordingly. This will help decrease the amount of waste and lessen your food cost. Using a food assessment will help you understand where to focus your efforts and what you can do to reduce your food waste.

Purchase ingredients for your dishes wisely. Consider purchasing smaller packages of certain ingredients that you know will be not be used before the expiration date.

Educate Your Employees
Train your staff about new food waste recycling regulations. Having a designated bin in your kitchen for compostable materials will give them a visual queue where to put the items. Inform employees that the bin is for ingredients that have either expired or are leftovers from guest plates. Also, make a contract with a hauler to regularly transport your establishment’s food waste to a nearby facility.

Donate Excess Food
Contributing surplus prepared items to soup kitchens and food rescue programs will assist in feeding the thousands of hungry Americans. Federal laws encourage commercial kitchens to donate through liability protection and tax benefits.

You are protected under the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act when you give food and grocery products to recognized nonprofit organizations that you know is safe to consume.

IRS Code 170(e)(3) enables tax deductions for foodservice businesses that donate food deemed acceptable and wholesome.

Visit the United States Department of Agriculture and Environmental Protection Agency websites to learn more about responsible food donation.