A Starbucks employee has shown what the display food really ends up like after just one day, and warned customers not to request products from it when the fresh ones are sold out.
TikTok user @sussyp1x13 filmed herself taking different sandwiches and pastries out of her store’s food display case and throwing it away, with on-screen vomiting emojis. According to the TikTok video, which can also be seen here, the food smells “funky” and “sour.”
“This is why I get so confused when customers want us to give them food out of the pastry case,” she captioned the clip.
According to the Starbucks employee, they replace the food in the display case every morning but when they take it out, “it’s disgusting.” Likely, the lack of desirability after a day in the display case is down to the heavy and hot lighting, which is reportedly used as a marketing technique to highlight the food on offer.
“In fact, the area with the sandwiches and pastries is typically going to be the best-lit spot in the whole store—and it’s not to make it more aesthetically pleasing. Starbucks wants to draw your eye to the display so that you’re more tempted to splurge on that coffee cake you love so much,” reported Mashed in 2019.
While Kayla expressed concern over customers choosing to eat the display food when they run out, the video has also sparked conversation over the sustainability of it all, with many pointing to how much waste it produces.
She confirmed in a comment that her store doesn’t donate any of the display food due to it sitting all day, and added that they also throw out “a lot of not gross, expired food though,” at her store located inside a Target.
“Why would they waste food daily,” wrote one TikTok user.
In 2016, Starbucks announced its FoodShare mission to reduce food waste across the U.S., with plans of donating unsold food from 100 percent of its U.S. stores. According to the company, currently 100 percent of Starbucks’ company-operated stores are part of the program and they’ve also pledged to donate $100 million in the next ten years to food hunger.
The move to rescue food due to be thrown out is a stark difference to other fast food retailers, which have been the subject of viral videos exposing the vast food wastage at the end of each day. A viral video in May showed a Dunkin’ Donuts employee throwing out around 30 trays of donuts.
While the company has been making moves to prevent food from being wasted across the country, the display case still acts as a concern for customers who view it as an unnecessary use.
“We really should do something different, because it’s such a waste and gross to clean,” wrote Kayla in a comment.
For the most part, viewers agreed that plastic display food would be a viable option and would mean food doesn’t need to be thrown away each day.
Others suggested images of the food instead—something which some Starbuck stores already use, although seemingly without much success.
“The display pictures don’t work, at least at my US store, because people genuinely don’t have common sense in my area, like they refuse to read, or think, or listen,” wrote one Reddit user in a discussion of the cases, adding that customers mistakenly see the pictures and think they’re sold out of all food.
Newsweek contacted Starbucks for comment.