Getting a Taste for Food Waste: A Mixed Methods Ethnographic Study into Hospital Food Waste before Patient Consumption Conducted at Three New Zealand Foodservice Facilities
Goonan, Sarah Louise; Mirosa, Miranda; Spence, Heather
Foodservice organizations, particularly those in hospitals, are large producers of food waste. To date, research on waste in hospitals has focused primarily on plate waste and the affect of food waste on patient nutrition outcomes. Less focus has been placed on waste generation at the kitchen end of the hospital food system. We used a novel approach to understand reasons for hospital food waste before consumption and offer recommendations on waste minimization within foodservices. A mixed methods ethnographic research approach was adopted. Three New Zealand hospital foodservices were selected as research sites, all of which were contracted to an external foodservice provider. Data collection techniques included document analyses, observations, focus groups with kitchen staff, and one-on-one interviews with managers. Thematic analysis was conducted to generate common themes. Most food waste occurred during service and as a result of overproduction. Attitudes and habits of foodservice personnel were considered influential factors of waste generation. Implications of food waste were perceived differently by different levels of staff. Whereas managers raised discussion from a financial perspective, kitchen staff drew upon social implications. Organizational plans, controls, and use of pre-prepared ingredients assisted in waste minimization. An array of factors influenced waste generation in hospital foodservices. Exploring attitudes and practices of foodservice personnel allowed an understanding of reasons behind hospital food waste and ways in which it could be minimized. This study provides a foundation for further research on sustainable behavior within the wider foodservice sector and dietetics practice.
Rights Statement: DOI: 10.1016/j.jand.2013.09.022
Keywords: food waste; Foodservice; Hospital; Ethnographic; Mixed methods
Research Type: Journal Article