It’s MY food – I paid for it!
November 24, 2014

Why caterers don’t leave leftovers.

So you’ve planned a party/wedding reception/ business dinner. The food is great, service is excellent, and then the party is over.  Now the battle begins over the leftover food. You paid for it – you want it. Let’s look at why your caterer CAN’T or SHOULDN’T leave it for you.

You Actually Didn’t Pay For The Leftovers

When you hire a caterer, you basically tell them how many to feed and for how long. Most caterers will bump the number up by 10% to cover unexpected guests, second servings, and feeding the staff that is working the event. Most caterers don’t want to have the reputation of running out of food, so there is always extra. So, in this case, you didn’t pay for it. The caterer is taking this out of their profit margin.

Liability Issues Come Into Play

Then there is the liability issue. The Tennessee food service code states:  (Rule 1200-23-1-.02)

(j) Once served to a consumer, portions of leftover food shall not be served again, except that packaged food, other than potentially hazardous food, that is still packaged and is still in sound condition may be re-served.

If you think about it, the food may have been sitting out for two or more hours, and by the time you package it, leave it in your car while you drive home, and get it in the refrigerator, you may be looking at it being out for more than three hours. The industry standard is any food left out for two hours must be destroyed, even if it looks good. At that point bacteria is growing at a very fast pace. 

This is the difference between taking home food from a restaurant and a catered event. The food you pack up from a restaurant has not been at room temperature for very long. The last thing a caterer wants is for someone to get sick from food that has been left out too long. At one time, we could have the host/hostess sign a waiver, releasing the caterer from liability. That does not hold up in court, as the argument against the caterer is that they must have known the food was no good and that’s why they made you sign a release. 

Some caterers will still leave leftovers. Check with yours before your event to know what their policy is. That way there are no hard feelings at the end of a wonderful event.

At Jo’s Custom Cakes and Catering we do not leave leftovers, but we would be happy to make you pre-packaged pans that you can take with you that we have kept at safe temperatures during your event. Give us a call at 615-459-9305 for all your catering needs.

117 Spring Circle
Smyrna, TN 37167
(615) 459-9305

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