Where does all the food that doesn’t get eaten go at the end of the day? A viral TikTok video showed behind-the-scenes look at what happens to unsold food at Dunkin’ Donuts and it caused an uproar.
Instead of donating the food or giving it away to customers for free, according to one employee, the company just instructs workers to throw it all away.
16-year-old Bryan Johnston posted the video on Tuesday showcasing one of his daily tasks. The clip, which has more than 2 million likes on TikTok and 10 million views on twitter, shows him throwing away more than 300 perfectly-edible donut as the Dunkin’ closes.
“We throw out so much food at the end of the day,” Johnston said in a different video. “I do get to bring some [donuts] home if I want to, but this is just the routine I have to follow.”
Many people found this shocking: “Give them to the homeless. This is a waste,” one person said. “There are people suffering give it to them,” another said in the comments.
This type of policy is in fact no unusual at all: A single restaurant in the U.S. wastes about 100,000 pounds of food a year, according to the Green Restaurant Association. Many restaurants say they do this because they fear getting sued, although there is plenty of evidence that this is not a reasonable concern.
Some were on the side of the food providers, however, as one person said on Twitter, “They don’t want lawsuits , and think about it why would anyone ever pay for it if you could just go at closing and get a bunch of free S***?”
“I'm not saying I agree, but the idea is that it could open the door for lawsuits if the store distributed food that was technically expired/unsellable and it made someone sick,” another person added.
Others discussed their similar experiences working in the service industry: “I work at a bakery and the amount of food we throw away is insane. In a day, I would chuck away 5 to 6 trolleys full of bread.”
One user asked the company why about their practices via Twitter direct message, and they responded saying it is up to each individual franchise to decide what to do with leftovers.
The debate continued, with some questioning whether homeless people, for example, would actually want unhealthy food like donuts – and others hitting back that there was a bigger question at hand.
Johnston – who according to his TikTok bio – was fired from Dunkin’ Donuts for ‘exposing them’, said he had seen all of these comments on his videos which motivated him to do something about it.
“What I have been told about the policy from my manager is that we (the workers) are allowed to take the donuts before we trash them, but we would have to take them in a discreet bag or box that doesn’t have the company’s logo on it,” Johnston explained to Yahoo’s In The Know. “That way if we decide to give them out or to the homeless, the company cannot get sued.”
He added, “I still find myself distraught by how much waste [there is] and I’m willing to break the rules every once in a while.”
Dunkin Donuts told indy100 in a statement:
“Dunkin' has developed a food donation program as an option for our franchisees. With the exception of locations where food donation regulations exist, it is left to the discretion of the individual owner/franchisee of each restaurant whether or not food is donated at the end of the day.”