Excess food in restaurants due to Covid-19 closures

Boris Johnson’s announcement last Friday meant that many restaurants, cafes and pubs were ordered to close immediately, unless they could offer a take away service. His announcement on Monday has now forced some of those takeaway services to close where they do not believe they can keep their staff and customers safe.

So what is to be done about the wasted food that your restaurant may have?

It is illegal to sell food that is past its use by date. Asda were hit with a hefty fine in 2016 when it was found to be selling meat produce past its use by date.

As we do not know when the current restrictions imposed by the government will be lifted, it is safe to say that food items with a short use by date will most likely be expired by the time the restrictions are lifted. Rather than risk the fines and other sanctions Trading Standards can impose on your business, you may consider it better to donate these items to food banks or other organisations.

However, you may sell food that is past its best before date. In 2017, Co-op announced that it would be selling food items past their best before date in an effort to reduce food waste. However, you may commit an offence if the food is unfit or of a poor quality. You need to consider whether food which may expire past its best before date will still be fit for consumption. If not, please consider donating it to local charities or giving it to your employees for use at home.

If you choose to donate spare food to charities or other members of the public, remember to do so safely and in line with the current government guidelines.

If you or your business require further information regarding food hygiene regulations, please call our specialist Regulatory Partner, James Lowe, on 07833 240400 for advice and assistance.