Hit enter to search

Understanding food safety principles is essential to managing and reducing food waste throughout the supply chain.

Food waste is a hot topic right now and for a very good reason. Consider these facts:

  • Staggering 40% of the food we produce is never consumed, that translates to 1.3 billion tons of food wasted each year and food waste is the single largest component of municipal landfills.
  • The amount of food wasted is four times the amount needed to feed the 800 million people who are malnourished and has a retail value of nearly $1 trillion.
  • The global food system is estimated to be responsible for up to one-third of human-related greenhouse gas emissions, representing over 3 billion tons of carbon dioxide, and farming is responsible for 70% of our fresh waste consumption.

By addressing food waste causes, we enhance our ability to feed the world nutritiously, safely and sustainably while minimizing environmental, social and economic impacts.

Faced with issues relating to the growing populations and the associated increasing food demand, the tide in understanding food waste issues has begun to turn. Both consumers and businesses have an increased awareness of harm food waste inflicts on the environment and to the communities around the world. In a recent Harris Poll survey, consumers ranked “food waste” as their second highest concern after reliable food safety, and ahead of climate change, air pollution, and water shortages. In that same survey, nearly 80% of consumers indicated they would think more highly of stores and food brands that helped them to not waste the food they buy.

The reasons for food waste are complex. From a food service operator discarding a box of the wilted lettuce, to a retailer rejecting a pallet of “imperfect “ apples, to a consumer throwing away food not consumed in time—food waste occurs across the supply chain, from farm to fork. Understanding the factors that affect spoilage, damage and even consumer preference is the key to developing successful strategies aimed on reducing food waste across each stage of the food supply chain. This process of re-imagining our food chain requires collaboration among a diverse set of stakeholders, education on transport, storage and use of food, and implementation of innovative solutions that can prevent food from being wasted in the first place.

Food safety is an important consideration when considering ways to reduce food waste. Concerns over food safety is one of the reason food is discarded, either because of reasons such as visible spoilage, potential temperature abuse, or because food has passed an expiration date. Therefore, food safety and food waste are inextricably linked in the food supply from farm to fork.

Here are a few ways to reduce and manage food waste in your supply chain:

  • Cold Chain. Ensuring proper temperature controls during transportation is essential to ensure safety and quality of foods before it reaches the store or the restaurant. Modern technology can help managing and monitoring temperature controls throughout the supply chain. One example is TempTRIP, a unique in-transit temperature monitoring system provides temperature monitoring capabilities during transportation and storage of foods in the distribution center (more at www.temptrip.com)
  • Packaging Innovations. Look for packaging systems that prevent physical damage during distribution and extend shelf life of perishable food products. Use of modified atmosphere packaging, for example, is a proven method to extend the freshness of many food products from pasta to cheese to meats. In addition, packaging that allows restaurants or consumers to use what they need, or to portion food, can prevent avoidable food waste. (See www.sealedair.com)
  • Staff Training. Training your staff on basic food safety teaches important information on using day labels for perishable and high risk foods, stock rotation and proper storage- all important considerations for minimizing food waste in your operation.
  • Track Your Waste. Establish simple and easy food waste tracking system- teach your staff to measure food waste prior and post service. Diversey Consulting can help you to set up such system in your operation.

Both consumers and food industry have a role to play in understanding and responding to the challenges around food waste. At the end of the day, preventing food waste is good for our society, our environment and our economy. So let’s all make a first step today.

Dr. Ronald Cotterman, Sealed Air

Translate »