Thursday, August 25, 2011


Lot has been written and spoken about the enormity of food wastage that goes on with no self consciousness among most denizens in this world but very little is done to arrest this "habit" ingrained especially in the population considered rich and super-rich. True a small proportion of the food that eventually would end up in the garbage is being salvaged by the Food Bank system that is in vogue in some of the wealthy countries but wastage of food is still enormous which if saved can feed millions of hungry people. Another dimension to this waste is the impact such dumping of food can have on the environment. It is known that food wastes can generate the much dreaded Methane gas through the action of microorganisms in substantial quantities and this gas is capable of destroying the ozone zone that protects the earth from too much warming. Thus the need to control food wastage is of utmost importance for the very survival of mankind. While some wastage can be justified because of their uncertain safety credentials, most of the food heading for the garbage dump can still be saved through modern technological tools like refrigeration, freezing, controlled atmosphere packing etc. A human being with some conscience will not throw away food and what is needed is the awareness about the negative implications of wasting food.

"Just how much food goes to waste each year in the U.S.? In 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimated 33 million tons of food was thrown away. In 1996, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimated that if even 5 percent of the total food waste stream were recovered, that quantity would represent the equivalent of a day's food for 4 million people. "There are a number of plastic packaging innovations making it possible to keep food fresher longer, so less is wasted and sent to landfills," said Steve Russell, vice president of plastics for the American Chemistry Council. "From resealable plastic bags and airtight plastic storage containers to portion-controlled plastic pouches for your favorite foods, the plastics industry offers many ways for American families to reduce the amount of food wasted in their homes, making it more affordable for them as well." Food waste also has a significant impact on the environment. The EPA confirms that methane gas produced by discarded food waste in landfills is 21 times more harmful to the ozone than the carbon dioxide emitted from cars. In fact, landfills account for more than 20 percent of all harmful methane gas emitted in the US contributing to global warming. "The issue of post-consumer food waste is a massive problem and arguably the most pressing issue regarding waste disposal," says food packaging consultant and author Dr. Paul Butler. "Focusing on packaging material weight reduction and recyclable food packaging materials is important; however, developing new innovations in packaging to help consumers manage their food inventory better and contribute to a more sustainable supply chain can have an even more significant impact on our environment." Consumers can help protect their wallets and the environment by using plastic innovations that help keep food fresher longer and looking for smart packaging innovations that ensure every last bit of the food is used before packaging is discarded. Plastics Make it Possible® has compiled a few simple tips to help consumers reduce food waste":

The role of labeling on the packed foods play some part in causing unnecessary waste of food. The precise implication of words like 'best before", "expiry date", "consume before", "sell before" etc is not well known to and too confusing for the lay man. Religiously date expired foods are thrown away though they may still be edible. If food scientists are to be believed most such foods are safe, though slightly inferior in quality and many of them can be cooked at home into different types of products which will ensure destruction of pathogens if any. Whether rich or poor wasting of food should be considered as a criminal act and must be frowned upon.


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