Better Taste! Less Waste.

Bourcet, Charlotte; Harms, Eugenia; Schönberg, Sonja; Götze, Franziska; Hentgen, Jérémy (2021). Better Taste! Less Waste. Bern University of Applied Sciences

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Beretta et al. (2019) calculated for Switzerland the environmental impact of avoidable food losses and its reduction potential. Around 14% of the avoidable food waste occurs in the catering industry. In their report, one of the solutions to decrease the environmental food waste was to eat the food instead of wasting it. A report on food wastage in the Swiss retail and catering service (Mandaliev 2012) shows that 53 430 t are wasted yearly (8 % peelings, 86 % table waste, 6 % wasted oils) in schools and company catering services. Additionally, a report by the French Ministry of Agriculture (Ministère agriculture France 2011) quantified the amount of food waste in primary schools at 110-130 g per child per meal. Identifying measures to increase food consumption in school canteens is therefore of great importance to reduce avoidable food losses and the resulting impact on the environment. Lunch at school is an important part of the school children’s diet. Consequently, school lunch should meet the nutritional requirements and be in accordance the with dietary guidelines. An adequate meal offers several advantages in terms of health, well-being and school performance of children. But what happens if the meal is not tasty? As found by Martins et al. (2016), children’s preferences and satisfaction with the sensory properties of meals are crucial factors for the extent of plate waste. Apart from well-studied factors such as ambience, lack of time and pressure to eat and finish meals, the palatability and accessibility of food are key elements for reducing plate waste in school canteens. The importance of tasty meals adapted to children’s preferences is even more meaningful for the age group between 2 to 6 years (Addessi et al. 2005). In this sensitive phase, children often refuse to eat their food, which is why a repeated and appealing food presentation is a key to ensure the acceptance of food in adulthood. Not taking into account children’s food preferences may lead to a large amount of food being wasted and to a low nutrient intake. Cordingley et al. (2011) identified three factors responsible for food waste in schools. The first relates to organizational steps such as the lack of flexibility in planning the menus. The second factor is not directly related to food but refers to the atmosphere and environment in which food is eaten and the possible lack of time to eat. Finally, school children sometimes reject food because it is not visually appealing or has an unusual composition. Boschini et al. (2020) conducted a long-term study on reasons for food waste in school canteens in Italy. The type of meals (e.g. ingredients used, recipe, food presentation) served to the children was identified as a significant factor influencing the amount of plate waste in school canteens. There are currently only few figures available for Switzerland on food waste and acceptance in school canteens. For example, Betz et al. (2015) classified the food waste of two companies from the education and business sectors and found that the most frequently wasted foods were starch components and vegetables. As shown by the following studies, school meals are a major issue to the Bernese authorities. A report by the Directorate of Education, Social Welfare and Sport (BSS) (Hänsenberger 2013) examined satisfaction with meals from the parents' point of view and points out that the taste of meals is not satisfactory and should therefore be improved. Together with the education authority (“Schulamt”) of the city of Bern, the BSS also issued nutrition and quality guidelines for the production of meals in childcare facilities in Bern. One of the guiding principles states that food should taste good and give pleasure (Moor 2017). 4 The aim of this research project is to investigate what influence the acceptance of food has on the amount of plate waste in school canteens. The volume and type of food waste measured will serve both as a baseline for “un-accepted” food and enable a quantitative set of results during and in follow-on phases of the project as an indicator of success, namely a reduction in overall food waste. Furthermore, the relationship between sensory aspects and the amount of food waste on the plate will be better understood. This research project is a pilot study that will enable the team to gain methodological experience in measuring the acceptance of meals, food intake and plate waste in Swiss school canteens. Follow-up studies based on the findings of this pilot project are planned.

Item Type:

Report (Report)


School of Health Professions


Bourcet, Charlotte;
Harms, Eugenia;
Schönberg, Sonja0000-0002-9820-5455;
Götze, Franziska0000-0001-9022-0880 and
Hentgen, Jérémy


Bern University of Applied Sciences




Sonja Schönberg

Date Deposited:

14 Feb 2022 14:12

Last Modified:

07 Sep 2022 10:43


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