Don't get wasted

Approved Food, the UK’s largest online retailer of surplus food and drink, has launched its Don’t Get Wasted campaign to cut food waste this Christmas.

MD Andy Needham says the amount of perfectly good food thrown away each festive season is scandalous and is calling on shoppers to be more savvy when planning their Christmas food shop.

Figures show around two million turkeys, 74 million mince pies and five million Christmas puddings are binned every year in the UK – and that’s without taking into consideration buffets, teas and food from social gatherings.

Food waste is regarded as a bigger contributor to global warming than plastic; DEFRA estimates that if it was a country, it would be the third biggest producer of greenhouse gases behind China and the US.

Mr Neeham said that planning ahead was key to reducing food waste, along with writing a meal plan and freezing leftovers.

He said: “As a company, we have campaigned for 10 years to reduce waste – and at Christmas the amount of perfectly good food thrown away is even more worrying, particularly when you consider how many people are struggling to put any food on the table at all.

“With the average family spending more than £200 on festive food and drink, there are ways to reduce both what people spend and how much they waste. Planning, smart shopping and using your common sense can prevent a surprising amount of food from being binned unnecessarily.

“Use your common sense – don’t forget that best before dates are arbitrary and are different from ‘use by’ dates. Many delicacies we buy at Christmas such as condiments, vacuum packed chestnuts and chocolate coins keep for months, even years, after the best before date, so never throw them in the bin just because that date has passed.”

Approved Food Brand Ambassador Jonathan Straight added: “We need to better understand our confusing labelling system as well as using our common sense. Use by dates are one thing but otherwise we should be able to rely on our senses to tell us whether food is okay to eat.

“It’s not just the food itself that is wasted. When you think of the energy that went into its manufacture, the amount of water used and the fuel that was needed to transport it, it’s simply not acceptable to continue like this when our planet’s resources are becoming depleted.”

Approved Food’s tips to reduce food waste include:

  • Write a shopping list and stick to it;
  • Don’t overbuy: Use a portion planner to calculate how much food you need;
  • Make room in your freezer before the big day to accommodate leftovers;
  • Ask guests to bring an empty container so they can take leftovers home;
  • Find some fantastic recipes to use up leftovers, such as vegetable hash or potato peel soup

Since it was established a decade ago, Approved Food has campaigned for clearer food labelling and better education around what the wording on expiry labels means. While the best before date gives a guarantee of peak quality, dried, tinned and vacuum-packed food can be perfectly edible for many years after the date on the label.

It is estimated that less than one third of UK residents realised that food contributed to global warming while Zero Waste Scotland estimates that food waste is a bigger cause of climate change than plastic.

The waste prevention body WRAP says the average family in the UK throws away food worth more than £800 every year. On a global scale, approximately one third of all food produced is wasted – and along with it, the resources and energy used to produce and transport it.