Welcome   |   Login   |   Sign Up   |

FOOD/ How to avoid waste

GIORGIO VITTADINI comments on the problem of food wastage, especially in this time of crisis when many families have trouble making ends meet, and what to do to save food.

5.5 million tons of food is wasted every year in Italy 5.5 million tons of food is wasted every year in Italy

Especially in the current period of economic crisis while many families in our country reach the fourth and even the third week of the month only with effort (not mentioning what happens in the poor countries of the world), it is unacceptable that every day a huge amount of food products are wasted. It is not possible to stand emotionless facing this injustice. Every year, 5.5 million of tons of food products that could be recovered in Italy are wasted, 58% by companies and retailers and the rest by consumers. This data come from an investigation carried out by a team of scholars of Politecnico di Milano and Fondazione per la Sussidiarietà. The findings of the research have been published in a volume: "Feed the Hungry. Surplus Food as an Opportunity", edited by Paola Garrone, Marco Melacini and Alessandro Perego (ed. Guerini e Associati).

The research aims at three objectives: finding food products that can be recovered for the fight against poverty; checking the inefficiencies of the food supply chain in order to gain competitiveness; educating people about the value of food products in an age of consumerism.

The focus of the research on Italian families is very interesting: every year 42 kg of expired or spoiled food per person is thrown away. This is equal to 42% of food waste in Italy.

This is important data, but if we make a comparison with a similar assessment of American and British families, the average of food wasted in these two countries is up to 3 or 4 times bigger. Thanks to various factors, such as the higher frequency of shopping, the attention to expiration dates, the planning of purchases, together with food habits (meals and dinners together) and culinary traditions that use leftovers, Italian families waste less food than the Anglo-Saxon families, where the governments are engaged in the so-called “food waste hierarchy” that aims both to reduce surplus right from the beginning with appropriate interventions in companies, businesses and families to prevent that “structural” surplus becomes waste by donating it to the poor.