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Doggy bags to clear nation’s plate

September 18, 2009 at 1:55 pm

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, real-food campaigner and presenter of the River Cottage series of TV programs, has backed a supermarket campaign to reduce food waste by three million tonnes a year by asking diners to take uneaten food home with them.

In its official magazine, Waitrose supermarket implored readers to overcome their shyness and ask waiters for a doggy bag – a box or bag of leftover food.

William Sitwell, the author of the feature, took umbrage with the volume of waste produced by UK restaurants, calling it “appalling”.

An estimated 20m tonnes of leftover food items end up in landfill sites every year, according to figures published by government pressure group WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme).

Mr Fearnley-Whittingstall was quick to point out that chefs like to see their food eaten, not thrown in the bin: “I have asked for doggy bags in Michelin-starred restaurants. This isn’t something that is frowned-on."

Hugh’s enthusiasm is not universal, however. Several UK restaurants have banned doggy bags altogether, fearing legal proceedings, bespectacled lawyers and salmonella’s grubby fingers.

Visitors to the BBC website noted that today’s culture is too quick to seek compensation for minor infractions. Some restaurants may even ask customers to sign a legal waiver before handing over a doggy bag.

Despite the popularity of the phenomenon in the US, few UK restaurants are equipped to provide a ‘takeaway’ service.

The Love Food, Hate Waste website offers free recipes and advice for people who want to cut down on the amount of food that they throw in the wheelie bin.

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