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Is taking leftovers home from a restaurant illegal?

Houston, Texas
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Is taking leftovers home from a restaurant illegal?

We have been mostly cooking in on our stay in Geelong, Victoria as we rented a flat but last night we went to a nice place nearby called Black Salt for dinner. Great meal but a side dish we had of Brussels sprouts with wonderful crispy bacon bits was so big we had over half left. I asked the server if it would be possible to wrap it up in some kitchen foil for us to take (I am aware that the doggie bag concept is not world wide but the kitchen foil request worked in Wales several times). Our server asked if we were staying in the attached hotel and we sad no and that we had a flat nearby. He said we then could not take any leftovers as it would violate health regulations and they could get in a lot of trouble. I said, OK, I understood but I come from the school of not wasting food and would have loved to have had the leftovers for lunch! Oh well, I'll remember them in my dreams I guess.

So was he correct or just giving me a line. My wife said maybe we should take a few zip lock plastic bags along next time!

Cradle...
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1. Re: Is taking leftovers home from a restaurant illegal?

Hi Chris,

From the Victorian Dep't of Health web site

"There are no laws that prevent restaurants and cafes from giving customers doggy bags however, food businesses can minimise risks by:

- Having a procedure in their Food Safety Program for dealing with doggy bags.

- Having a leaflet or messages on menus explaining the risks of doggy bags to consumers; and

- Seeking advice from insurers"

A lot of restaurants don't like giving out doggy bags anymore as they have no control on how people control the foods condition once it leaves the restaurant. Many restaurants have been blamed for food poisoning when people have taken home a doggy bag. So I would assume it comes down to the restaurant, and seriously you can't blame them.

What I do find odd is all this hullabaloo about doggy bags leaving restaurants, and yet what about the control of food once it leaves a Take-Away shop?

Hope it helps - Robert

australia
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2. Re: Is taking leftovers home from a restaurant illegal?

That's not uncommon. Health authorities could (though unlikely, maybe some have been caught out) jump on them. Its a bit like some food shops won't half heat pre cooked food

its either buy it cold (to 'properly' reheat at home) or fully heated.

I have seen people ask for a take away container and have one provided and then empty their own plate into it. I guess what you do with your meal is up to you attitude applies.

Melbourne, Australia
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3. Re: Is taking leftovers home from a restaurant illegal?

You've got nothing to lose by asking for a doggy bag, but it is becoming less common for the restaurant to oblige you - fear of being sued is the main reason unfortunately.

In Melbourne at least, any restaurant that also has take-away will generally give you a doggy bag (so this is mainly asian, itallan, etc). Some eat in only restaurants will also oblige, but these are not common.

However, there is nothing to stop you taking your own plastic take-away container and putting your leftovers into that (even if you have to do it a bit sneakily). I always have one in the car now for just that purpose - whether the leftovers are for me or really are for the dog:)

Edited: 19 September 2012, 02:37
Sydney/Melbourne
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4. Re: Is taking leftovers home from a restaurant illegal?

I've had many an argument with restaurateurs on this issue. Especially in pizza restaurants where more than 50% of their business is takeaway and they won't give me a box to put in my leftover pizza. They will, however, sell me a whole new pizza and put it in a box for me to take home.

Sometimes the law really is crazy. But, yes, they are well within their rights.

Some places even make you sign a disclaimer if you take away leftovers but I'm not sure of the legality of it.

If they get difficult I find a bunch of serviettes works well but a bit difficult of its a wet dish or the restaurant has linen napkins.

Afraid I've never been organized enough to take my own container but it's a good idea.

Melbourne, Australia
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5. Re: Is taking leftovers home from a restaurant illegal?

Just buy a pack of takeaway containers from the supermarket and leave it in your car.

Ien
Breda, The...
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6. Re: Is taking leftovers home from a restaurant illegal?

It is because of the brussels sprouts I think. It is not healty to heat them up again. The same is for spinach and endive.

Newcastle, New...
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7. Re: Is taking leftovers home from a restaurant illegal?

As people said its really to save te restaurant from any legal problems etc

The restaurant I work in, if someone's asks we provide them with a container and make them package the food up as it is now their responsibility.

Houston, Texas
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8. Re: Is taking leftovers home from a restaurant illegal?

I don't know len, been reheating most cooked vegetables with no problem for years. Granted ecoli can be in some vegetables but it's more of an issue when they are uncooked to begin with and not properly washed

The other thing that is kind of funny regarding all these answers about liability is our server would have done it if we were staying at the attached hotel which doesn't make sense that there would be any less liability.

My hunch is he took them back to the kitchen and ate them all up as the bacon was really great! ;-)

Edited: 19 September 2012, 07:12
Melbourne, Australia
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9. Re: Is taking leftovers home from a restaurant illegal?

Unfortunately not everyone understands the importance of proper reheating and 'shelf life' of leftovers. Some places were sued because of food poisoning - unfortunately, no way to prove the problem was with the 'reheater' rather than the restaurant. This obviously scared a lot of restaurant owners and it has just snowballed. Can't blame them for being wary of litigation, even if it is annoying for diners.

The 'grey brigade' were notorious for loading up at the buffets so they could take food home to save money, and I'm sure quite a few would have ended up eating leftovers that were well and truly past the 'use-by-date'.

Sydney, Australia
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10. Re: Is taking leftovers home from a restaurant illegal?

It has to do with taking the food from the premises. Hence room service is OK, most people in a hotel will put it back in the fridge so less time exposed in "unhygenic" conditions. It is also not removed from the hotel.

Take aways are generally collected hot and taken home and consumed immediately (our local take away tosses food if one dish is too slow to come out the kitchen)

i had this argument with a cafe almost 8 years ago in Rutherglen who wouldn;t let me take a sandwich back for Guru who was working. Their argument was they weren;t licensed take away hence they couldn't let us take food off the premises (hence the "law" aspect)