In South Africa, 10 million tons of food go to waste every year. That’s a third of the 31 million tons produced here annually. In a country where millions of people go to bed hungry that is appalling. Apart from that, it is a shocking waste of resources such as energy and water.
How can we minimise food waste along the value chain?
• Grow your own: smallholders who grow their own vegetables and fruit can limit the number of items planted and are eating more healthily;
• Eat food that is in season: food that is imported or which has been kept in cold storage has a larger carbon footprint;
• Buy the deformed carrot: a carrot that is not perfectly straight will lie on the supermarket shelf, yet it is just as nutritious as the straight ones;
• Chop your own vegetables: pre-processed produce does not last nearly as long as veg that you peel and cut up yourself ~ plus the peels can go into your compost heap;
• Eat local: check the label, as the country of origin must be stated. Do not be misled by “packaged in South Africa”, as that’s not the same as “produced in South Africa”.
• Best-before, sell-by and use-by dates: Best-before dates are about food quality and taste, not safety. Use-by dates are about food safety, especially once you’ve opened the package. Highly perishable foods such as meat products and dairy pose a food safety risk if consumed after their use-by date.
Use-by dates: Highly perishable foods such as meat products and dairy pose a food safety risk if consumed after its use-by date. These types of products must be disposed of after it has reached its use-by dates to avoid the possible threat of food poisoning.
It is illegal to sell or donate perishable foods that are past their use-by date because it carries a health risk for the consumer.