It is very easy to get lost among the excitement in the run up to Christmas without taking time to plan your Christmas meals and more often than not, this results in leftovers. Each host spends an average of £112 on food alone, which amounts to £64 million of surplus food or 4.2 million Christmas dinners (Unilever, 2015) going to waste each year across the UK.
£13 billion worth of food is thrown away by UK households each year equating to approximately 7.3m tonnes and of this, 4.4m tonnes could have been avoided. This avoidable waste produces 19m tonnes of greenhouse gases and if we can eliminate this, it would be the equivalent of taking 1 in 4 cars off the road. Being that Christmas is probably the most wasteful time of year when it comes to food, it is great to see the likes of Aldi and The Co-op giving away left over food and Sainsbury's scrapping multibuy options but if we all took these simple steps below then we could drastically reduce this figure.
It is so easy to be gluttonous over Christmas because instinctively, we tend to have eyes bigger than our bellies. There are, however, great tools on the internet to help you with this. The BBC have released a Christmas Portion Planner which will give you an idea on the amount you need per person. Waitrose have launched their Christmas Dinner Calculator but unlike the BBC one, theirs is more interactive and calculates the portions for you based on the number of guests. It will not only do the planet some good but it will also save some pennies and keep that waist down by stopping you over indulging over Christmas.
Waste not Want not
Of course we are all familiar with the days of turkey sandwiches that follow Christmas but we are normally left with a plethora of food that can be saved. Leftover liquids can be placed in an ice tray and frozen. Wine makes a great alcoholic ice cube but why not freeze down gravy and sauces and save it for another day. Love Food Hate Waste give advice on how you can reduce food waste in your home and provide a recipe search tool that allows you to search for recipes based on key words and is a great way to make using those leftovers a little more interesting.
Lead by Example
Be proud to be Welsh! That might sound weird coming from an Englishman but Wales was the only part of the UK to reduce household food waste between 2009-2013, a 12% reduction across the period. Food prices were rising at a rate of around 5% between 2007-2013 but this reversed in 2013, food started to become cheaper and food inflation began to turn negative. People found themselves with more money and lower food prices meaning that consumers were more inclined to waste food. Wales is also ahead of the game in terms of food waste collection, with 90% of local authorities collecting food waste compared to just 27% in the UK.
As always in the food industry, it is safety first. Ensuring that your fridge is operating at a safe temperature can reduce food waste as it avoids spoilage. Your fridge should be operating at a temperature between 0-5⁰C, the basis for the ZERO2FIVE brand. Leftovers that aren’t frozen should be refrigerated and eaten within 2 days. Any leftovers should be frozen within 2 days and thoroughly defrosted in the fridge overnight or in a microwave. Before the dish is served, it should be reheated until steaming hot.
The FSA recommends labelling any foods that go into the freezer with the name of the dish and the date you made it, so you know what it is and how long it’s been there. The FSA have also given guidance on food safety in the run up to Christmas as part of their Let's Talk Turkey campaign.
Sign this Petition!
Between 1st April 2016 and 31st March 2017, 1,182,954 three day emergency food supplies were given to people in crisis, a 6.6% increase in the use of food banks year-on-year (Trussell Trust, 2017). There is currently around 270,000 tonnes of edible food waste each year but it can cost up to £150 per tonne to separate, store and transport edible surplus food to charity. This petition aims to put pressure on the government to introduce a levy for food waste distribution and is being pushed by The Grocer as part of their Waste Not Want Not Campaign.
Click here to sign the petition
The Courtauld Agreement sets ambitious targets for the UK to achieve a 20% reduction in food waste by 2025. Whilst it has been a successful year for the Courtauld Agreement with 156 signatories, 95% of the retail market and 40% of the UK population being announced in the annual review conducted by WRAP, the reduction of food waste and the global impact this is having is a shared responsibility – we all have to take action if we are going to make a change.
Merry Christmas from the ZERO2FIVE Food Industry Centre Staff.
Jamie Old, Marketing Executive
For more information
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