Do Restaurant Workers Eat Food That’s Sent Back?

Would you eat off of a half-eaten plate?
Half-Eaten Steak

Photo Modified: Flickr/ Ray Sawhill/ CC4.0

Some restaurant workers aren't left with much of a choice. 

It happens to all of us eventually: We’re served a plate of food at a restaurant, take a bite or two, and sadly realize that there’s no way we can go any further. Either the dish is much too salty, the steak is overcooked, it contains an allergen we weren’t told about, or the taste is simply off to such an extent that we consider it to be inedible. So we send it back to the kitchen, order another dish, and go on our merry way. But what happens to the food that’s sent back? Does the kitchen staff really eat it themselves, as some people believe?

This exact question was recently posted on Quora, and the answers are quite surprising. The short answer? Yes, some do, but some don’t. When employees are forced to eat food that’s sent back to the kitchen, it’s usually because they’re treated poorly and the kitchen is poorly run. No kitchen worker should ever have to eat off of someone else’s plate, because it’s the restaurant’s responsibility to make sure that all of its employees are properly fed and shouldn’t have to resort to scavenging from send-backs.


So when you send a dish back to the kitchen, even if you’ve just taken one bite out of it, the odds are very high that it’s heading right for the trash.