The Waste of Chicago

Discarded food at festival on increase

If a recent trend holds up, vendors at the Taste of Chicago this year will have thrown out literally more than a ton of food by the time the event ends on July 5.

According to an investigation by the Chicago Reporter, the amount of food discarded by vendors at the Taste has increased by 27 percent since 2006. Most of the food was thrown out because it was flagged by public health officials for temperature violations.

"We're more rigorous at what we're doing," the director of the city's food protection program told the publication.

The Reporter found that Bacino's Pizza of Lincoln Park was forced to throw out more than twice as much food as any other vendor last year.

"During the course of the 10-day festival, Bacino’s had 11 violations and threw out 434 pounds of food valued at more than $3,700," the Reporter found. "The inspector 'found consistently bad temperatures at Bacino's' and on July 3 alone ordered 198 pizzas be thrown out, indicating they were 'detrimental to health and unfit for human food'.”

Bacino's is back at the Taste this year, along with the other seven worst offenders.

The lost food cost Bacino's $3,707.50, according to the Reporter - not a staggering amount but easily the worst loss of any other vendor.

Food unfit for human consumption obviously cannot be donated to the poor, but the city says that "a percentage of the proceeds from Taste of Chicago benefits Mayor Daley's Sharing It program. Sharing It provides food and funds for the underprivileged through the Chicago Anti-Hunger Federation and the Greater Chicago Food Depository."

Steve Rhodes is the proprietor of The Beachwood Reporter, a Chicago-centric news and culture review.

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