A detailed food waste assessment is an extension of the Source Assessment in that it still targets the different waste producing areas in a business but, instead of just weighing the food waste from each of the specified areas, you break it down into the different types of food waste.

Doing such a detailed survey will provide you with information on the key food types that are wasted regularly. This provides businesses with the detailed information required to target food waste prevention as close to its point of generation as possible and with key items to be focused on.

Detailed assessments should follow the general method outlined for the Source Assessment but may need to be altered somewhat depending on how and what is to be looked at in more detail. In general these will focus on the largest waste producing areas identified during the source assessment or on the largest, or most expensive wastes. Segregating individual food wastes as close to source, before it goes into the ‘source’ food waste bins, makes these assessments much easier.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor the detailed assessment at a buffet style canteen each type of food is weighed in its serving container before it goes out for serving.  Then, at the end of the meal, the container is re-weighed and the amount of food not served can be determined. Food that has been prepared but not served or sold is a key area as it has been purchased, prepared and then disposed of so has a high cost associated with it. When it comes to plate waste this can only be separated manually so different containers will be needed to take the different foods (e.g. meat, potatoes, vegetables) off the plates.

Food Retail

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADue to their bar code based stock control systems most food retailers usually have excellent information about the specific foods that are being dumped. This can be used to identify trends and proportions of ordered stock that are being wasted. However, source assessment may still be of benefit in areas like the deli where specific foods (e.g. salads, breads, cut meats) may not be separated out.

The following show results from 2 different food surveys that provide more detailed information on specific food wastes.

1. Hospital Ward Survey


This survey, at a PCCC hospital ward, examined the main food wastes from each meal. As can be seen, as a proportion of the total waste from this ward porridge is by far the largest waste generated.


2. Restaurant Buffet Survey


The results from this survey at a restaurant lunch buffet examined the main foods served. Weights were taken before and after the meal and the proportion wasted was then determined. Potatoes (63%) and broccoli (34%) were the 2 largest wastes.

Monaghan Restaurant Saves on Hot Tomatoes! As part of a detailed food waste assessment, a County Monaghan restaurant decided to examine the plate waste coming back from served meals. During this assessment it was noted that almost 90% of all cooked tomatoes were returned untouched. Traditionally, most meals went out with a hot tomato but they decided to stop serving them on a temporary basis, unless specifically requested. Based on this one change the restaurant saved almost €2,000 annually!