Food waste: everybody’s problem

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 12th October 2010

A new survey commissioned by McCain Foods Australia has revealed that while 60% of Australians are concerned about the problem of food waste, only half of these people (32%) see it as an issue within their household.

The survey, commissioned by McCain Foods Australia and surveying 1004 Australians, reveals a stark contrast between the concerns around food waste and the acceptance of responsibility within the community, with 47% of Australians admitting to throwing out food on a weekly basis.

The results have been released to coincide with National Nutrition Week 2010, which launched on Sunday 10 October, with the theme in 2010 of ‘Healthy Food; Healthy Planet’. With recent Datamonitor research showing that Australians are the second highest generators of food waste behind the USA, the McCain Foods survey demonstrates that more can be done on educating the public about this issue.

Accredited Practising Dietician and Director of Food & Nutrition Australia, Sharon Natoli, said that when it comes to food waste, the responsibility needs to be taken by every household.

“What the McCain survey has shown is that while many Australians are aware of the problem of food waste and the impact it has on the environment, few are connecting the issue to their daily food habits,” said Natoli.

“By honestly assessing your household’s food consumption from week to week, decisions can be made about food choices and how to cut back on the amount of food that is thrown out.”

Fruit and vegetables make up a large part of the food wasted by Australian households, with more than $1.1 billion worth of fresh produce being thrown out every year. McCain Foods Marketing and Innovation Director Nicki Anderson thinks some of this wastage could be avoided by using frozen fruit and vegetables.

According to McCain, many frozen vegetables retain their nutritional value for up to a year in a freezer at -18 degrees, whereas fresh vegetables stored in a refrigerator at 4 degrees for one week can lose nutritional value over this time – particularly green vegetables such as broccoli, green beans and spinach.

“It’s encouraging to see a fairly high awareness of food waste in Australia, but it can be difficult to make the connection between the issue and how each individual can make small changes to have an effect,” said Anderson.

Other than freezing food, including vegetables, fresh meat and leftovers, Natoli also offered some everyday tips on how Australians can easily cut down their food waste, suggesting that consumers can save food by keeping an eye on best-before dates, planning to use leftovers, keeping a cool fridge, bulking up meals with legumes and vegetables, avoiding plastic wrap in favour of containers, and only buying what you need.