NZ restaurant bans doggy bags, citing health and safety risk

If you go to a restaurant and have leftovers, you ask for a doggy bag.

food_safety_sticker_2Any restaurant that knows food safety will bring the clamshell to the table: no one wants your germs back in the kitchen.

A Kapiti Coast restaurant has banned doggy bags, citing health and safety.

“If someone takes food home, doesn’t heat it properly and gets sick, they’ll probably blame us,” Phil Ryan, owner of The Social at Kapiti Lights, said.

“Some people got upset they couldn’t take a burger home, but it’s all about food safety.”

But the Ministry of Primary Industries is clear that food taken home from a restaurant becomes the responsibility of the diner, and Kapiti Coast District Council, along with other councils in the Wellington region, said it had no rules against doggy bags.

The ministry’s website says: “Operators may refuse to let leftovers be taken home because they run the risk their food could be mishandled and then blamed if someone becomes ill.

“If you take the food away, the safety of that food is up to you.”

However, Ryan said most restaurants par-cooked their food, so customers could be reheating their leftovers for a third time, leaving them at risk of getting sick.

food_safety_sticker“I would rather have a bad review for keeping people safe than making people sick. It’s not about ripping people off, honestly.”

The Social is not alone in being wary of letting customers take leftovers home. Duck Creek restaurant, in Pauatahanui, tries to stop diners taking chicken away.

“We strongly discourage that,” head chef Dean McFarland said. “If it’s a steak or some chips that’s fine, but chicken can go off too quickly.”

Top 10 things that get lodged in the throat, Australia version

Warning: avoid chunks of plastic when eating food from take-away containers.

Maybe that’s an additional warning required for those Styrofoam containers or clamshells, popular for leftovers and take-away food.

We developed safe handling labels for take-out food and showed those stickers can help restaurants and food providers distinguish themselves in a competitive marketplace. But now researchers report in the Medical Journal of Australia two separate cases where women accidentally swallowed a large chunk of plastic, which became stuck in their throat and required a trip to hospital to have it removed, after eating food straight out of a take-away container, which had "softened" as a result of their meal being heated up in a microwave oven.

Dr Chris Pokorny from Sydney’s Liverpool Hospital, and colleagues, write,


"Given that take-away food containers are widely used, these cases highlight the need for care to be taken when heating food in such containers and then consuming directly from them."

The doctors warn the plastic softens during the heating process, and could be sliced through during the act of cutting up a bite-sized portion of food.

The paper also lists those items which most commonly get lodged in the throat, headed by a wad of improperly chewed food (17.1 per cent) then coins (15.6 per cent), fish bones (12.6 per cent), dental prostheses (8.6 per cent) and chicken bones (6 per cent).