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Stand Up for Food Month – Tackling Food Waste in the Commercial Sector

Guardians of Grub
17 September 2020 | Updated 25 September 2020
 

Stand up for Food Month is an awareness campaign bringing attention and reduction to the £3 billion of food thrown away at hospitality and foodservice outlets.

Guardians of Grub, developed by WRAP, began this promotion in 2019 to tackle the huge waste problem in our society that sees many meals feeding bins rather than people.

As UK lockdown restrictions continue to ease and people head back to work, Stand up for Food Month is the time to address national food waste which “has been in the spotlight since panic buying began at the start of the pandemic”. That is the view of Jason Webb, director at Electronic Temperature Instruments (ETI). Webb believes that with the stockpiling of food produce in the early stages of lockdown, this has led to greater awareness when it comes to food waste in households and catering facilities.

He's not alone– a recent survey by Tesco of over 2,000 UK adults found that lockdown had prompted two-thirds of respondents to feel differently about food. Almost a third of respondents said COVID-19 has made them more aware of the value of food while 38 per cent said lockdown, and the difficulties it has brought, has represented the single most important event in their lifetime when it comes to their relationship with food and food waste. As a result, 75 per cent said they had kept up efforts to reduce food waste since lockdown restrictions have eased.

 

“During the early stages of lockdown, one of the main concerns was that we would witness higher levels of food waste than normal." 

–Jason Webb

Director, Electronic Temperature Instruments 

 

Foodbank Use on the Rise

 

Foodbank use is on the rise in the last few years. The Community Fridge Network and similar projects have seen growth to meet demand as well. In France, the law dictates that large supermarkets must donate surplus to the charities that deliver to those in need, and specifies they must not spoil anything to deter foraging. Most top supermarkets in the UK have partnered with FareShare, the national network of food redistributors, in order to use their unsold edibles before they become waste.

These various bodies are promoting the overall message that if you’re a food professional, no matter what your business or your job role, you can take action and make a difference:

 

  • You will be helping to save our planet by reducing the amount of food needlessly wasted in the hospitality and foodservice sector. One million tonnes of food prepared by the sector is thrown away each year– 75 per cent of this could have been eaten.
  • Taking action on food waste is simpler with guidance and examples of success. Check out Guardian of Grub’s operational resources with quickstart guides, tracking sheets, calculators and more to help you reduce food waste.
  • This is a relevant issue for your customers– climate change and the need to act more responsibly to save our planet is high on the public agenda, and can influence customer choice.
  • Reducing food waste will benefit the bottom line. Food waste costs the sector £2.9 billion each year. By making small changes you could start seeing a benefit to your profit margin. A review at a single Elior site suggested a range of initiatives that offered possible annual cost savings of £2,441 and diversion of 1.6 tonnes of waste from landfill. Further case studies can be found on Guardian of Grub’s website.
  • It's a great PR opportunity– broadcast the great work you’ll be doing to reduce food waste, aid awareness and gain respect. Their Campaign Resources, as well as all the other supplies mentioned, are all available through their index page here.

 

Vigilance With Quality of Food is Still Essential

 

With the push to make sure everyone is fed during the economic fallout of COVID-19, Jason Webb of ETI warns that we must still be vigilant with the quality of food, and beware of when it is no longer safe to eat or donate. Taking care of storage is a vital component, he says.

“During the early stages of lockdown, one of the main concerns was that we would witness higher levels of food waste than normal. The majority of food thrown away is usually because there was either too much prepared or it was forgotten about and expired. Additionally, with perhaps more food items than normal within households, some food products may not have been stored correctly.

"The same could be said of surplus food within catering facilities who had their doors shut for so long. This increases the risk of food poisoning which is frequently caused by bacteria from foods that have been incorrectly stored, prepared, handled or cooked. It’s important to note that food contaminated with food-poisoning bacteria may look, smell and taste normal. If food is not stored properly, the bacteria in it can multiply to dangerous levels.”

Picture: A promotional image from Guardians of Grub, showing a working kitchen. Image Credit: Guardians of Grub

Article written by Bailey Sparkes | Published 17 September 2020

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