A Te Puke restaurant owner has done an about-turn after trialling a no-doggy-bag policy over a couple days.
Te Puke Diner faced such customer wrath after the restaurant tested out a no-takeaway policy for patrons that it decided to return to the popular tradition of providing doggy bags for leftover food.
One patron posted on a Tauranga noticeboard that she had been refused a doggy bag after a late lunch and asked people's thoughts on the incident.
What followed was a fiery and popular debate about the custom of bagging leftover food at a restaurant.
Te Puke Diner owner Rodrigo Bernardes said his customers had spoken and the diner would continue providing doggy bags.
He said he and his staff had decided to trial not providing takeaway containers to see how people would react, if it would be okay.
"So many people got angry so I said okay, not a problem, we will do doggy bags."
Mr Bernardes said sometimes people's food would sit on their plates for half an hour while they talked and drank, then they would take it home and let it sit some more. Not refrigerating or heating food up too many times could make people sick.
"Sometimes people want to take away literally one piece of lettuce and a spoonful of coleslaw," he said.
He said he was worried the plastic containers would end up in the rubbish after holding just a little bit of food.
Te Puke Diner usually gave their patron's scraps to a neighbour who fed it to their animals.
After the trial Mr Bernardes noted the doggy bag was culturally important in New Zealand and Te Puke Diner would continue provide doggy bags.
He said he hoped people would try to understand why he trialled the policy.
On the post people were split between health and safety concerns of taking food home and the mentality if you paid for the food you can do whatever you want with it.
One commenter said "You paid for the food, seems totally unprofessional to not let you take your food home."
Another said "It's at the discretion of the owner of the food outlet . . . Their concern is the consumer doesn't follow hygiene practices and gets sick then plasters their name all over social media etc and they cop it."
On the Ministry of Primary Industry's food and safety webpage, it states the operator of a food outlet may refuse to let patrons take leftovers away because they ran the risk that their food could be mishandled and then blamed if someone becomes ill.
"If you take the food away, the safety of that food is up to you," it said.
Consumer CEO Suzanne Chetwin said doggy bags were a custom not a right.
It was up to the restaurant to decide but once a person took food away from the eatery it was their problem if the food gave them food poisoning.
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