Sunday, July 29, 2012


Whether it is really a scoop or was already known to many people, the so called expose by a whistle blower regarding some of the practices being indulged in by restaurants and fast food chains may yet persuade some consumers to cut down their frequency of eating out side. Recycling old foods is a practice followed by many restaurants due to economic considerations though there are countless others who are scrupulous in rejecting any old foods, not sold within a few hours after its preparation. Of course food spoilage might not be an issue in recycling prepared old foods but flavor and taste can be affected to some extent due to repeated exposure to heat during reformulating and preparing another product from the old one. The advanced refrigeration system and facilities available to day make it possible to keep foods for relatively longer periods without any major deterioration and there fore consumers should not have any worries about safety aspects. Nonetheless if restaurants claim that their preparations are made from fresh ingredients, they must avoid the temptation of recycling old foods which should be donated to the local Food Banks. After all to day's consumer attaches great value to freshness and the faith he reposes on the restaurant for transparency and fair play should not be violated  Here is a gist of the expose which made headline news recently.  

"While the way that Wendy's recycles overcooked hamburgers into the next day's vat of chili may be frugal, Cozmo23's description of it isn't exactly appetizing. (Though the rest of the thread, with riffs on British celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay's possible reaction? Awesome.)  It's not limited to Wendy's, either: Lethal_Lunacy77 reports that the Chick-Fil-A he worked at did something similar with their chicken salad, stripping old chicken patties of their breading before chopping them up and mixing in mayo. And fast-food places aren't the only ones that recycle, apparently. "Being a dishwasher in an Italian eatery, i am instructed to throw garlic bread that looks untouched after being put out on the customers table into a separate bin where they are taken from, then used in meatballs," writes Burkey217. "Years ago my older brother was a busboy at a local well-respected restaurant. He let me know that the uneaten dinner rolls that were brought to each table (in a basket w/ packages of butter) were saved and placed into new baskets to go out to guests later in the evening," Chef_Brokentoe adds". 

In India where there are millions of small restaurants, operating on a limited budget, recycling is a big temptation too good to be resisted. Since almost all foods are heated to high temperatures before consumption, here again danger from microbiological hazards, per se, is very remote. However there is one area of danger in foods offered in Indian restaurants which involves the quality of cooking oil used for preparing fried and roasted products. Deterioration of cooking oil when exposed to temperatures as high as 180-200C is an established fact and some of the artifacts generated during prolonged exposure to heat can pose health risks with serious short term and long term health consequences. Scientific advise that heated oil should not be reused is not taken seriously and no restaurant seems to be willing to discard the frying oil after a couple of use considering the high prevailing prices for edible oils in the market. Fortunately the predominant cooking medium happens to be Palm oil and Palmolein, both relatively stable fats compared to others. Why the recycling may not become a controversial issue is due to the market reality that restaurants indulging in such practices, offering foods with reduced quality due to recycling, will be in danger of being elbowed out of the market place over a period of time.


No comments: