Wasted food products tossed into landfills worldwide comes to 2.9 trillion pounds annually, and that is 30 percent of global food production. While a part of that waste comes from the farm, it goes up the line to eventually reach the consumer level.
One supermarket in Copenhagen, Denmark, with the appropriate name of "WeFeed"
opened this month with some unusual consumer products. The shop sells food and other consumer goods that are still salable by law but have lost their market value due to having cosmetic "dings" or having reached their "sell by" dates.
WeFeed's owners believe that throwing out perfectly good food is not only a waste of our resources but does not benefit the environment. Additionally, they sell the products at 30 to 50 percent less than they would cost in a regular grocery store, making the products more affordable to people on low incomes.
The store is run by volunteers and the goods being sold are donated. All proceeds from sales go to a charity called DanChurchAid
, that through humanitarian action works to make the lives of the world's poorest people better.
Inconsistent labeling is part of the problem
In Denmark, 700,00 tons of food products are thrown away every year. But it is the same worldwide. We have created a throw-away society that is costing us billions of dollars every year, and it seems to be partly because we misinterpret labels, according to one study
The study, that looked at labeling in the United States, cited the lack of consistent labeling regulations nationwide as a major reason we waste so much food. One area touched on was "sell by" labels on products. It was found that 91 percent of consumers occasionally throw food away based on the “sell by” date, thinking the food is unsafe.
The study found that manufacturers are allowed to add their own "sell by" dates, and those dates are used for restocking purposes in grocery stores and have nothing to do with the safety of the food.
Milk is even worse
when it comes to "sell by" dating. While milk sold in stores is usually pasteurized, meaning that by federal law it is good for 21 to 24 days after pasteurization, some states impose even stricter regulations. Montana has a law that milk is only good for 12 days after pasteurization, and when it reaches that date, it must be thrown out and cannot be donated.