The Scandal of Food Waste

While 870 million people go hungry in the world a third of all food produced in the world is never eaten. According to the Guardian this wasted food is valued at more than £259bn per year. It is estimated that the amount of food discarded by retailers and consumers could more than feed all the hungry people in the world.


In America it is estimated that about 60 million metric tonnes of food, with a value of $162 million, is wasted every year. 32 million metric tonnes of this food ends up in municipal landfills at a cost $1.5 million to local governments.


In Europe it is estimated there are 47 million tonnes of avoidable food waste. A study in Europe, carried out by Joint Research Centre, found that Europeans waste an average of 123 kilograms of food per capita annually. That equates to 16% of all food reaching consumers. Almost 80% of that waste is avoidable as the food is edible.


Perfectly good food is often thrown out based on the expiry date printed on the lid.  The ‘smell/sniff’ test, used by our parents and grandparents can usually supplement the current expiry date system. For the consumer there is an array of dates to be deciphered including best by, use by and sell by


From an environmental point of view alone we know that food production requires large quantities of water and land. The fuel needed to produce, process, refrigerate and transport food contributes greatly to the environmental cost. Food thrown thoughtlessly in landfills decomposes and emits methane, a potent greenhouse gas.


Food waste is a global issue. It is a serious economic, environmental and humanitarian issue.

See more at: New York Times 26 February 2015


We can each play our part in bringing this scandal to an end.  It begins with our own choices when we shop and select our food.  We can also draw attention to this in social media and in direct communication with supermarkets who supply a great deal of the food we consume.


This issue from Fran Brady – 19 August 2015

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