Parliament: Food

House of Commons Commission written question – answered on 14th May 2018.

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Photo of John Mann John Mann Chair, Treasury Sub-Committee

To ask the right hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington, representing the House of Commons Commission, what steps the Commission is taking to reduce food waste in Parliament.

Photo of Tom Brake Tom Brake Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (International Trade), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Exiting the European Union)

Food waste from prepared dishes in House of Commons catering outlets is 3% against sales. This is well below the national average for the catering industry of 5%. The Sustainable Restaurant Association has rated the House of Commons as a good practice organisation in respect of food waste. We take various measures to monitor and reduce the amount of food waste from catering outlets. There are a number of ways that we are able to help minimise our food wastage:

  • We have menu plans and cycles which enable orders to be thought out in advance.
  • We make the vast majority of dishes fresh in-house. This enables us to improvise if products need to be used up and we can use short life products in smoothies, soups and salads for example.
  • Stock is regularly counted and order volumes are considerate of stock-in-hand.
  • Dates are checked regularly on ambient food products and any short life products are issued to the kitchens and used up.
  • For many of the high-volume protein items, these are ordered by unit rather than weight which makes portion control more accurate and less prone to over ordering.
  • Venue orders are checked by a purchasing team for accuracy to ensure that orders and volumes are accurate and in line with historic figures.
  • Our kitchens make salad items in-house meaning they are able to cook-off and utilise any surplus protein products effectively.
  • Stock is always rotated using first in first out principles.
  • We utilise various smart storage methods and materials to help prevent premature spoilage.
  • Some products are frozen if not used on the day.
  • Products which show high levels of wastage are changed, so for example some high frequency/low volume lines are now frozen which enables portion control.
  • Any hot food that we have which is reusable is both transferred immediately where it can be used or blast chilled within food safety requirements and used the following day.

In the case of sandwiches, any unsold products are returned to the supplier and they in turn assist with adjusting future order quantities. This has been in force since January 2013 and sandwich wastage is at just 2.5% which is well below industry standards.

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