QU MARKS INTERNATIONAL DAY OF AWARENESS ON FOOD LOSS AND WASTE REDUCTION

Reducing food waste is essential. Where huge tons of edible food is wasted while there is a noticeable rise in the number of hungry people. In addition, when this surplus food is disposed of in a landfill. It directly affects the negative changes that occur in the climate. We review the opinions of some nutritionists at the university about the harms of food waste and innovative solutions.

Tahra El-Obeid, Head of Human Nutrition Department, committed: “the problem of food surplus is a global problem, Qatar University worked on a project to solve this problem. For example, one of the projects working on using surplus food to manufacture different types of food. And one of the newest projects is manufactured surplus vegetables and fruits into long-life products.” Food production requires using many natural resources. Thus, if the food was wasted entails "misuse of resources and will have negative environmental impacts. The project is very important because it reduces food loss& waste, which leads to improves resource use efficiency. Furthermore, food waste that is not properly handled can have many negative environmental consequences.” She adds.

Dr.Reema Tayyem, Professor of Human Nutrition, said: “The problem is not that there is too little food but rather the availability and accessibility of food, both factors determining the food security of the population. The world has seen a surplus for more than five decades now, while 15% of the world's population faces hunger, another 20% is overweight, so the problem is the distribution of this surplus. A just social and political system and planning for solid infrastructure will lead to greater access to food markets, giving disadvantaged populations better access to food.

She adds: “It is necessary to educate the community about the importance of not wasting food and how to store it and keep it healthy and safe for as long as possible and prepare food in moderate and sufficient quantities without extravagance, and providing a local crop (especially for fresh and quickly spoiled foods) and improving transportation and storage infrastructure will contribute to reducing and limiting waste Food and post-harvest losses. Wasting food is one of the things forbidden by religion, our true religion has recommended the preservation of grace in all its forms, and God Almighty has forbidden extravagance in eating and drinking. The waste of grace in terms of food and drink has economic and psychological aspects on the family and societal level in particular, and the country and the world in general. While food is wasted in families and high-income countries, other families and countries suffer from hunger, poverty and food insecurity. The Islamic religion has directed the solution to the surplus of food, large banquets that are held in homes, farms, restaurants and hotels, whose fate is among the piles of waste, the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: (Whoever has surplus provisions, let him promise it to the one who has no provision). The narrator of the hadith said: “Until we thought that none of us had the right to be credited.” Narrated by Abu Dawood.”

Dr. Zumin Shi, Professor of Human Nutrition, said: “Reducing food waste is a task many governments are facing. It requires the collaboration of all stakeholders. Research is vital as it not only provides the technical parts of food production, packaging, and transportation but also generates evidence to be used in policymaking. Research and intervention in consumers' behavior can help make a healthy food choice and reduce the frequency of eating out of the home.”

Dr. Abdlehamid Kerkadi, Associate Professor of Human Nutrition, mention that the world has witnessed a remarkable rise in the number of people suffering from starvation, especially in poor countries. The reasons for this rise can be summarized in wars, climate change, the Corona pandemic and the high unemployment rate. On the other hand, we see an increase in the amount of food wasted annually, especially in high-income countries. The insufficient availability of food leads to a high rate of starvation in the world. Hence the importance of preserving food and not wasting it and rationalizing the amount of food consumed by the affluent families. On the other hand, the increase in the amount of spoiled food leads to an increase in the consumption of natural resources such as water and the frequent consumption of fertilizers, and thus negatively affects the environment and increases global warming, which is one of the causes of crop failure and starvation.

Dr. Vijay Ganji, professor of Human Nutrition, talked about Reducing food loss and waste offers a clear opportunity to improve global food security. He said: “According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UNFAO), about one third of edible food (1.3 billion tons) produced for human consumption is wasted. The estimated economic loss of this food waste is USD 1 trillion. Based on the research food loss and food waste are directly linked to global food security in both short-term and long-term. Food loss happens when food is lost during production, after harvesting, and during industrial processing. Food waste happens at the end of supply chain by whole sellers, retailers, and consumers. In high and middle-income countries, majority of the food is wasted at the end of supply chain by consumers. Majority of the food is wasted/lost in the early and middle part of the supply chain in low-income countries. By reducing the food waste and food loss, more food is available at the individual and community level, and globally leading to improvement in global food security. Reduction of food waste and loss throughout the supply chain should be at the forefront of global campaign in improving food security.”

“Globally, agriculture produces one third of greenhouse gases. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, if food waste/loss is a “country”, it would be the third highest greenhouse gas producer. About one third of food produced for human consumption is wasted/lost worldwide. If this food wastage is stopped, this could reduce the greenhouse gas emission by 8%. Food waste/loss places strain on natural resources like land, water, and energy. The food dumped in the landfill releases greenhouse gas, methane. One should practice composting instead of dumping the wasted food into the dustbin. Composting reduces the methane production by 86% compared to the same food thrown in the landfill. In the long-term, reducing the food waste/loss would have significant impact on greenhouse gas production, global warming, and climate change.” He adds.

Grace Attieh, Teaching Assistant of Human Nutrition, said: “It is still crucial that people take steps to reduce their environmental impact. The simplest ways to reduce food waste as a consumer are: Reduce purchased food quantities, Quality and safety check before discarding the food, Refer to prepared shopping list while in the supermarket, Organize the kitchen and store food properly respecting the storage temperature, Refer to a weekly menu, Freeze leftovers or recycle it in a new plate, Preserve food in salt, vinegar or sugar to increase its shelf life, 8. Use wet food as source of compost.”

“The way in which food is produced and consumed leads to great losses and places natural resources, environment and climate under great pressure. The high levels of overweight and obesity in a certain group of the world on one hand, and the inability of the other group to bear the cost of securing food on the other hand indicates inequality in terms of food security. We also mention climate fluctuations and their impact on crops, and the increase in the poverty rate, as individuals resort to food banks. All these related reasons contributed to highlighting the need to transform food production and consumption methods into sustainable food and agricultural systems.” She adds.

Source: Qatar University