Sunday 23 July 2017

Commissioner refers to Famine as he calls food waste 'immoral'

In the European Union, around 88 million tonnes of food are wasted annually with associated costs estimated at €143bn. Stock picture
In the European Union, around 88 million tonnes of food are wasted annually with associated costs estimated at €143bn. Stock picture
Luke Byrne

Luke Byrne

The EU's Commissioner for Health and Food Safety has hit out food waste, calling it "immoral".

Speaking yesterday at the Ballymaloe Litfest, in Co Cork, Vytenis Andriukaitis spoke about how he was born in Siberia, in a Soviet gulag, where food was scarce.

Mr Andriukaitis highlighted how Irish innovation FoodCloud, an app-based invention which Tesco uses to redistribute its surplus food to charities and the community, could help in tackling wastage.

"I don't need to tell anyone in this country what not having food means and the consequences this brings," he said, referring to the Great Famine.

The EU has begun drafting guidelines to facilitate food donation in the EU.

"The guidelines, which will help initiatives like FoodCloud, will clarify, where necessary, the food safety and food hygiene rules and fiscal rules applicable to food donation," he said.

"Every single crumb of bread counted," he said referring to his early life spent in a Soviet gulag.

"And even if you came across a rare occasion when you would not be able to finish your plate on your own - something I don't even remember happening - there would be others waiting in line and happy to help.

"Food waste was not only unthinkable, it was immoral. And I still think the same today."

Mr Andriukaitis pointed out that while some 800 million people in the world go hungry - around one-third of the world's food is lost or wasted.

In the European Union, around 88 million tonnes of food are wasted annually with associated costs estimated at €143bn.

He said while 20pc of food produced in the EU is lost or wasted, 55 million EU citizens cannot afford a quality meal every second day.

A key goal of the United Nations is the reduction of food waste by 50pc by 2030 at all levels - including retail and consumer.

Mr Andriukaitis pointed out the benefits of reducing food waste. It's been estimated that such waste generates around 8pc of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Moves to reduce waste would support the creation of jobs and services thought the redesign of a new food chain, where value gained from food produced is maximised.

"Food waste occurs all along the food value chain - from farm to fork," Mr Andriukaitis said. "Fighting food waste therefore requires a thorough and comprehensive rethink of how we produce, market, distribute and consume food."

He said fighting waste would require concrete action on the ground by all players and co-operation and joined-up efforts all along the food chain.

"We want to enhance investments in activities to fight food waste in order to boost innovation, jobs and growth," Mr Andriukaitis said.

Irish Independent

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