Is it acceptable to ask for a doggy bag?


Is it acceptable to ask for a doggy bag?

Is it acceptable to ask for a doggy bag?

Belfast City Council is encouraging those who eat out in the city to ask for a
doggy bag if they don't finish all of their meal in order to help the environment.

While this is a valid point due to the large volume of
food that is wasted every day across the
developed world is this the only reason to engage in the practice and is it acceptable to do so?

According to The
Belfast Telegraph, the average restaurant discards 21 tonnes of uneaten food every year, which is the equivalent of three double¬-decker buses in weight.

Even though it can feel like you will never eat again when you are full, we all need food every day to keep going, so why not save it for another day? After all that's what we do at home with the food we don't eat and in
restaurants there is no difference - it has been paid for and should be of a very high quality, so it would be a shame to let it go to waste.

Pat McCarthy, chair of the council's Health and Environmental Services Committee, said: "Portion sizes can sometimes be quite big and the way I see it, if you've paid for it, you're entitled to take it home."

But for some reason there is a certain amount of
social stigma surrounding doggy bags with some restaurants even stating health and safety as a reason for not allowing their
customers to take what they couldn't manage home with them. This is not based on any legislation or the precedent of well established principles, in reality it is probably just laziness on the part of the restaurant manager.

Belfast has actually enlisted the services of the local cookery school to help it come up with a specially designed box for taking leftovers home in. The Bring Home Box is ergonomically designed and has a clean modern style to it, which gives the impression that it is reinventing the doggy bag for the 21st century.

At the very least the initiative may help to raise the profile of doggy bags and encourage more restaurants to offer them as a matter of course. Those establishments which do not allow their customers to take what they cannot manage away from them are being very short-sighted.

After all trying to satisfy the requests of diners is simply good customer service, but the benefits are more far reaching than that. Branded boxes taken home or even just a flyer or business card slipped into the bag allows the restaurant to advertise itself more widely. Doggy bags put the restaurant's product directly into the customer's home, something innumerable marketing campaigns aim to achieve.

Shea Trainor, a chef with Belfast Cookery School, said: "While restaurants try to get their portion sizes right, there can be times when diners can't finish their meal and it is a shame to see perfectly good food going to waste. Restaurants incur costs for the waste they generate so we think this is a great initiative by Belfast City Council - it's a
win-win situation for food businesses and customers."

With this in mind it seems like a no-brainer for customers to ask for a doggy bag for the delicious food they didn't manage to consume and for restaurants to grant the request.

Back to Blog