Where do we waste the most food?

‘Want to save the world from hunger?’ the Guardian recently asked. It’s a question we all shout a resounding ‘YES’ to!

The solution - start by not wasting food.

The tragedy is that there’s enough food in the world to go around, but one-third of the 4bn tonnes produced each year is wasted, costing the global economy nearly $750bn (£530bn) annually.


‘Most food is lost on the plate’

The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) points out that if we tackled the problem of food waste, we could feed 9 billion people a day. Sadly, in the developed world ‘most food is lost on the plate’. 

In response, the WFP launched the campaign ‘#RecipeforDisaster’ to encourage people to use food past the sell-by date and create meals from this food that would have otherwise ended up in the bin. By taking this action, the campaign hopes to raise awareness on social media and increase monetary donations to WFP.


Avoidable food waste

In the UK, consumers throw away ten million tonnes of food every year - and many millions of tonnes of that food could have been eaten. That shocking statistic is enough to save the average UK family £700 a year and provide six meals a week.


Understanding the confusing amount of food labels

One of the problems is that there are a baffling number of different food labels on products, and many people simply read the date and chuck the food away without a second thought if that date has passed - even by one day!

There is of course a big difference between ‘sell-by’, ‘display until’, ‘best-before’ and ‘use-by’ dates.

Sell-by, display until and best-before dates are all about quality. These are often dates which the food retailer has estimated as the optimum time for the best taste and/or appearance for the product. It’s usually perfectly safe to eat the product past these dates.

On the other hand, use-by dates are all about safety. Food may contain bacteria, so if it’s stored for too long it could cause food poisoning. After the use-by date don’t eat, freeze or cook it. Most foods can be frozen before their use-by date, so just try to plan ahead.


Keep an eye out for part 2 of this post to get a list of many commonly wasted foods that are perfectly edible past their best before dates!

Anoushka Grover