John Hemming's Web Log John's Reference Website
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
  Eat up your Chips says Gordon
Although I do think it is a worthwhile exercise trying to reduce food waste it is important to read the source reports.

The estimate of 40% of food wasted subsequent to harvesting is substantially more than that which is wasted in the home.

The main cause of food being wasted in the home is it being left on the plate. The largest proportion of any foodstuff being wasted is 9.7% and this is potatoes. That is, however, their calculation as to a proportion of food wasted. I am unsure about their estimates as to the proportion of foodstuffs bought that is wasted as it doesn't stack up. However, there is no benefit in auditing their figures as the objective of reducing food waste is laudable.

Hence our PM is calling for people to "eat up their chips" - or moreso perhaps to put fewer on the plate. (The report is available here)

These are extracts from the report:

UK households waste 6.7 million tonnes of food every year, around one third of the 21.7 million tonnes we purchase. Most of this food waste is currently collected by local authorities (5.9 million tonnes or 88%). Some of this will be recycled but most is still going to landfill where it is liable to create methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. The remaining 800,000 tonnes is composted by people at home, fed to animals or tipped down the sink.

Most of the food we throw away (4.1 million tonnes or 61%) is avoidable and could have been eaten if it had been managed better. Truly unavoidable food waste, like vegetable peelings, meat carcasses and teabags, accounts for 1.3 million tonnes a year or 19% of the total, with the remainder being ‘possibly avoidable’ food waste – items such as bread crusts that some people choose not to eat and potato skins which can be eaten when food is prepared in certain ways but not in others.

The main reasons for throwing away food that could have been eaten if it had been managed better are:
􀂄 left on the plate after a meal (1,225,700 tonnes worth £3.3 billion);
􀂄 passed its date (808,000 tonnes worth £2.2 billion);
􀂄 looked, smelt or tasted bad (750,500 tonnes worth £1.8 billion);
􀂄 went mouldy (465,700 tonnes worth £960 million); and
􀂄 left over from cooking (360,600 tonnes worth £830 million).


Reasons are different for different types of food. For example:
􀂄 bread: out of date 29%, looked bad 21%, went mouldy 20%;
􀂄 breakfast cereals: 73% left over after a meal;
􀂄 cheese: out of date 37%, went mouldy 23%;
􀂄 eggs: out of date 56%, left over 25%;
􀂄 fresh fruit: mouldy 37%, looked bad 25%;
􀂄 salads: out of date 48%;
􀂄 fresh meat and fish: out of date 35%, left over 26%;
􀂄 milk: smelt or tasted bad 38%, out of date 37%;
􀂄 pasta: left over 50%;
􀂄 rice: left on plate 48%, left in saucepan 44%; and
􀂄 condiments: out of date 34%, left over after cooking 26%, left on plate 20%.


Here are the top 19

1 Potatoes 359,000 9.7%
2 Bread slices 328,000 8.8%
3 Apples 190,000 5.1%
4 Meat or fish mixed meals 161,000 4.2%
5 World breads (e.g. naan, tortilla) 102,000 2.7%
6 Vegetable mixed meals 96,000 2.6%
7 Pasta mixed meals 87,000 2.3%
8 Bread rolls/baguettes 86,000 2.3%
9 Rice mixed meals 85,000 2.3%
10 Mixed meals 85,000 2.3%
11 Bananas 84,000 2.3%
12 Bread loaves 75,000 2.0%
13 Yoghurts/yoghurt drinks 67,000 1.8%
14 Sandwiches 63,000 1.7%
15 Cakes 62,000 1.7%
16 Lettuces 61,000 1.7%
17 Tomatoes 61,000 1.7%
18 Cabbages 56,000 1.5%
19 Cooked rice 55,000 1.5%


What it does say, however, is that it is not necessarily that straightforward an issue to resolve and that simply putting fruit in the fridge (see below) is not going to resolve the issue. When you take into account the energy costs of the refrigeration it could, of course, be counterproductive (as well as needing a really big fridge).

http://www.rwminfo.com/page.cfm/action=Archive/ArchiveID=10/EntryID=4363
 
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