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Minimising food wastage needs joint action
Published on: Sunday, July 16, 2017

By Joshua Y C Kong
MALAYSIANS waste 15,000 tonnes of food daily including 3,000 tonnes that are still fit for consumption by human beings and should not be discarded but still it all end up in garbage dumps. “Globally, about 1.3 billion tonnes of food valued at RM4.4tril is lost or wasted yearly,” Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) senior enterprise development officer Dr Rosa Rolle at the “MySaveFood” jointly organised by FAO and Mardi’s forum attended by 100 participants from government agencies and the private sector aims to create awareness about the food life cycle and to reduce food waste.

Are we not concerned that such massive waste has been recurring for some decades already especially some food sources are expensive and quality food production is still very much desired in agriculture and farming sectors?

One of the key problems is that cooked foods have very short time to maintain their freshness and quality to be consumed by human beings even today with the availability of cold storage or freezers.

Maybe it is appropriate that untouched food be left in cool rooms until it is collected.

Have we identified who are to be blamed for such massive food waste in today’s environment?

During my student days in London, I had a college holiday job for a few weeks in December more than thirty years ago in a busy London general hospital’s canteen. I noticed that after 2pm almost daily, one or two big containers of untouched egg curd would be discarded into the drain by the chefs.

The practice of cooking in bulk was economical as demand could not be known prior to cooking that.

There would be problem with the patrons if such egg curd as a sweet item ran out before the lunch hours were over.

Isn’t it that untouched expired/left food from the buffet tables still fit to be recycled to feed pigs but not mentioned in the news reports to avoid total loss ending in the garbage dump which only feed the rats and possibly stray dogs?

Isn’t it that food waste can be converted by some heat process to sort of “organic” fertilizer?

Isn’t it that certain food waste can be utilised for earthworms to digest it to some sort of organic fertilizer?

Maybe it is still inconvenient to deal with food waste other than just dump it in garbage dump as out of sight as far as restaurants/kitchens are concerned daily.

Like it or not we must deal with the daily food waste in the most suitable set of options.

One of the problems for recycle of food waste is that the collection issue to be punctual and that food waste cannot be retained too long in the kitchens.

For the food untouched but still fit for human consumptions, there are such problems as hours of collection for deliveries to the target groups possibly in the odd hours of the night for dinners while for the lunch food left-over deliveries could be held up or much delayed in traffic jams.

So the commitment of the people to collect and deliver such food for recycle to the target groups could be ‘unreliable’ daily.

It is also possible for delayed collections and deliveries of untouched food can cause such food to deteriorate in freshness/quality unfit for human consumption.

We must address the increasing food waste in the following aspects namely reduce the cooked food according to the demands by the hours as monitored by the kitchens, maintain the quality/freshness of unconsumed cooked food in suitable containers for deliveries to target groups, food waste as leftover in the plates/tables should be recycled for the pigs normally re-cooked, fertilizers factories and earthworm centres.

Continued dumping in the waste bins not collected daily is environmentally questioned and pose health hazards.

While it is the responsibility of the food handlers and the kitchens to deal with the food waste, the authorities, the public and consumers have an important role to play for the environment.

Joshua Y C Kong

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