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Potočnik highlights aim to halve edible food waste by 2020

The European Commission (EC) has underlined its commitment to halving edible food waste by 2020 as part of World Food Day - an occasion raising awareness that a third of food is wasted globally.

Janez Potočnik, European commissioner for environment, said: “We are working on the sustainability of the food system as a whole, and looking to tackle resource inefficiencies across the food chain, starting with food waste. I hope this will ultimately help the world’s food system to become more resilient.

“When 870 million people go hungry every day, there can be no excuse for wasting one third of the world’s food.”

The EC cited six main causes of the problem:

  • Lack of awareness, for example confusion about ‘best before’ and ‘use by’ date labels.
  • Wayward portion sizes
  • Stock management inefficiencies
  • Overproduction
  • Inadequate storage
  • Inadequate packaging

The Commission is co-operating with stakeholders, experts and EU member states to analyse how to reduce food waste without compromising food safety. It is also compiling good practice.

It is also discussing actions including donation of surplus food to food banks, date labelling, short food supply chains and bio-energy.

The Commission said it plans put forward an initiative in this area in the coming months.

Tonio Borg, European commissioner for health said: “It is vital to work with all actors involved in the food supply chain – from farm to fork - if we are to be resource efficient and tackle avoidable food waste without compromising on safety.”

Retail and consumers account for 40% of food losses in industrialised countries and over 40% occurs after harvest and during processing in developing countries.

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