Tuesday, 21 October 2014

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EU to issue guidelines

Roger Waite - Official photo from commissions webpage - CREDIT European CommissionAt the screening of Taste the Waste, a film by German movie director Valentin Thurn, we asked Roger Waite, the European Commission’s Spokesman for Agriculture and Rural Development some questions about food waste in Europe.

What is the Commission doing about the problem of food waste?

At the moment there’s no clear legislation on this issue, but it’s coming very much on the agenda. We will shortly be issuing guidelines to member states on food waste, which is nonbinding, but at least it forces every member state to look at what they do to manage food waste. But at the same time we are talking about our sustainable action plan, in the Berlin green week for example and in resource management we are starting to look at food waste, so it’s starting to coming on to the political agenda.

We have all heard about the story of the bent cucumber. Should the EU have these standards when it clearly creates a problem?

The market should decide this question. It is not for legislation to decide if you can sell a bent cucumber for example. We have indeed changed that rule so your bent apple or potato is now possible to sell in the market, but again this is an issue for the market and the industry to decide, not the politicians.

What is the role of the industry to address this problem?

Well, they have the problem that they need to sell, but also that they work with limited resources. I imagine there is a way forward, partly to reduce the level of waste but above all to make sure that anything that is wasted is still used for something. There are possibilities for renewable energy and possibilities for fertilizing, and that is the sort of direction we need to go, but there is the broader question of if we are consuming too much. I’ve seen in the UK ministers asking if we should abolish the “buy one get one for free”, which tends to encourage overconsumption, and my hope is with films like this maybe consumers will become more aware of this particular problem and will be more careful about what they buy.

We are throwing food away while others starve every day; there is something wrong with this picture…

There is something wrong with that picture. And if you look at every single forecast we see that demand and consumption are rising much more quickly than supply, and therefore we have to be much more efficient in the future and yes consumers, the industry and maybe even the politicians will have to do something to make sure that this level of waste goes down.

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3 Questions to Valentin Thurn, director of the movie Taste the Waste.


F
acts:
food loss and food waste

A 2011 study done by the Swedish Institute for Food and Biotechnology (SIK) on behalf of FAO, Global Food Losses and Food Waste , distinguishes between "food loss" and "food waste". Food loss measures the decrease in edible food mass, occurring at the production, harvest, post-harvest and processing phases and ismore important in developing countries, due to poor infrastructure, low levels of technology, and low investment in food production systems. Losses occur when grain is infested by pests, fungi, microbes. We also have economic food losses resulting from low prices and lack of access to markets for poor quality grain, or contaminated food. Food losses contribute to high food prices by removing part of the food supply from the market.

Food waste is defined as food loss occurring during the retail and final consumption stage due to the behaviour of retailers and consumers, that is, “the throwing away of food”. Food waste is more of a problem in industrialized countries