Look, we’re all concerned about food waste. But for restaurants, there’s definitely a line between not wasting food and getting yourself in trouble with the health department. Taking food off one customer’s table and then serving it to another pretty clearly falls into the latter group, no matter how much those chips “look” like they went untouched.
It’s an issue that recently got Michigan-based restaurant Su Casa Mexican in hot water when the mother of a former employee decided to expose the joint’s chips and salsa policy on Facebook. “My daughter … was told not to throw away the salsa, chips, etc that come back that ‘looked’ like they haven't been touched!” Kristie Bowie wrote on the social media site. “She did not feel comfortable with this so asked the owner if it was true. He said is was true so she put her notice in and worked her shift. The owner belittled my daughter telling her she had no common sense…!”
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Though the Facebook post had all the telltale signs of someone with an ax to grind, local news station WWMT paid Su Casa Mexican a visit and revealed that, actually, yes, the chips accusation was completely true. In fact, Bowie’s viral post even caught the attention of the health department who also paid the restaurant a visit – and cited the establishment for reusing food.
When confronted by WWMT, owner Edgar Suarez reportedly pled ignorance. “I thought it was okay and the health department said it's not possible, you cannot do that,” the news site quoted Suarez as saying. “I didn't realize that even if people did not touch them or they were still in the tray, I thought everything was good.”
Since the citation, Suarez says he’s changed his ways. Meanwhile, the restaurant has remained open the whole time. Hopefully regular customers aren’t disappointed to find out that their favorite “old-chips-that-may-or-may-not-have-a-bite-taken-out-of-them” is no longer on the menu.