Food waste: causes, consequences and how to avoid it

Recent studies ensure that more than 1/3 of the world’s food products are wasted. These data collide with those of countries that suffer severe famine, so that little by little, it has begun to fight against this high percentage turned into food loss .

Food waste encompassed any type of food lost during the supply process between the producer and the consumer, up to the point where it eats or discards it. This discarding or non-food use of safe products for human consumption is beginning to be a serious problem in first world countries, which also affects developing or third world countries.

Causes of food waste

Among the main causes of food waste are:

Pre-harvest problems

This is one of the first causes that results in a loss of food. Whether caused by pests, misuse of fertilizers or other collection problems. Also included in these causes are poor storage and poor execution of transport, either due to negligence or other agents external to the harvest.

Lack of infrastructure

Within this category we find the lack of market or poor conditioning of the same, as well as prices that do not adjust to the products demanded for consumption. This causes that the vast majority of these foods cannot be acquired and that they end up rotting and spoiling.

Lack of management in fresh products

Many of these food products are discarded before their expiration date, being still optimal for consumption. Even within the chain, many are discarded for not meeting aesthetic standards such as color, shape or size. It is also common for them to be removed from the cold chain due to transport or packaging, so they are discarded without checking their true state. This happens in both homes and businesses.

Preparing excessive amounts of food

Another cause of wasting food is that, both at home and in businesses such as restaurants, excessive amounts of food are prepared and that, many times, by not eating it at that time, it ends up being thrown away. Although many people also keep leftovers in lunch boxes or tuppers in the refrigerator to eat in the following days, many others directly discard them, something that also happens in many restaurants.

Regarding the main consequences of food waste, we can see that it is both problems in the environment and, of course, in society and health.

Environmental

One of the first data that we find within the consequences of food loss is the volume of water wasted for its production. We are talking about a total of 8,060 m³ / s every year. Added to this are the 3,300 million tons of greenhouse gases that are discharged into the planet’s atmosphere during the process, plus those produced by their discharge.

Economical

According to FAO, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, in addition to these environmental impacts, this food waste represents a loss of more than 75.00 billion dollars each year.

Another important point is the overall management costs produced by hospital waste. The average loss due to food waste is estimated to be around € 2 / kg, not counting employee costs and time and energy to prepare daily rations. This would give a total loss of about € 10,000 / year.

Social

It is not very difficult to imagine what better food management would mean in third world countries . The problem of food waste is much closer to us than we think. In Spain alone, more than two million people eat exclusively from soup kitchens. Of them, the majority are minors who, once the school year is over, do not have the necessary food for their growth and health.

Without a doubt, one of the best solutions to avoid food waste would be a lower production or a base in real consumption data. In this way, a more efficient use of land and water would be achieved, to avoid not only a loss of food, but also to avoid a greater impact on the environment.

Likewise, we leave you here some useful tips so that you can contribute your bit to this cause.

  • The first thing you should do is plan both your shopping list with what you need, and an idea of ​​a menu of dishes per week. This way you will avoid forgetting food and you will only use what is necessary for day to day, in addition to saving money.
  • It is very important that you know how to preserve food well . For this reason, it is advisable that meat products and other products such as bread are individually wrapped before placing them in the freezer. Always leave the oldest ones in front.
  • Learn to differentiate between the expiration date and the best before date . The expiration date refers to the fact that it must be consumed before the indicated date. However, when we find the label to consume preferentially, it only refers to the fact that this product may have lost some of its properties, but it is suitable for consumption.

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