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Food wasteorfood lossisfoodthat is discarded, lost, or uneaten. The two are similar, but have key distinctions within their definitions.The causes of food waste or loss arenumerous, and occur at the stages of production, processing, retailing and consumption.Current estimates put global food loss and waste between one-thirdand one-halfof all food produced. Loss and wastage occurs at all stages of the foodsupply chainorvalue chain. In low-incomecountries, most loss occurs during production, while in developed countries much food – about 100 kilograms (220 lb) per person per year – is wasted at the consumptionstage.DefinitionIn simple terms, 'food loss/waste' can be defined as food intended forhuman consumption that is discarded or lost uneaten. Howevera precise definition of food loss andwaste is a contentious subject, often defined on a situational basis (as is the case more generally with definitions of [waste]).Professional bodies, including international organizations, state governments and secretariats may use their own definitions.Definitions of food waste vary, among other things, in what food waste consists of,how it is produced,and where or what it isdiscarded from or generated by.Definitions also vary because certain groups do not consider (or have traditionally not considered) food waste to be a waste material, due to its applications.Some definitions of what food waste consists of are based on other waste definitions (e.g. agricultural waste) and which materials do not meet their definitions.United NationsUnder the UN's Save Food initiative, the FAO, UNEP and stakeholders have agreed the following definition of food loss andwaste:*.Food lossis the decrease in quantity or quality of food. Food Loss in the production and distribution segments of the foodsupply chain is mainly caused by the functioning of the food production and supply system or its institutional and legal framework.*.Food waste(which is a componentof food loss) is any removal of food from the food supply chain which is or was at some point fit for human consumption, or whichhas spoiled or expired, mainly caused by economic behaviour, poor stock management or neglect.Important components of this definition include:*.Food waste is a part of food loss, but the distinction between the two is not clearly defined*.Food redirected to non-food chains (including animal feed, compost or recovery to bioenergy) is counted as food lossor waste.*.Plants and animals produced for food contain 'non-food parts' which are not included in 'food loss and waste' (these inedible parts are sometimes referred to as 'unavoidable food waste'European UnionIn theEuropean Union, food waste was defined as "any food substance,raw or cooked, which is discarded, or intended or required to be discarded" since 1975 until 2000 when the olddirectivewas repealedby Directive 2008/98/EC, which has no specific definition of food waste.The directive, 75/442/EEC, containing this definition was amended in 1991 (91/156) with the addition of "categories of waste" (Annex I) and the omission of any reference to national law.In July 2014, the European Commission has announced its targets for the circular economy, waste management and provided a"food waste" definition as "food (including inedible parts) lost from the food supply chain, not includingfood diverted to material uses suchas bio-based products, animal feed,or sent for redistribution" (i.e. food donation). Concurrently, all Member States of the European Union shall establish frameworks tocollect and report levels of food waste across all sectors in a comparable way. The latest data arerequested to develop national food waste prevention plans, aimed to reach the objective to reduce food waste by at least 30% between 1 January 2017 and 31 December 2025. To enable the process, the Commission shall adopt implementing acts by 31 December2017 in order to establish uniform conditions for monitoring the implementation of food waste prevention measures taken by Member States of the EU.United StatesTheUnited States Environmental Protection Agencydefines food waste for theUnited Statesas"uneaten food and food preparationwastes from residences and commercial establishments such as grocery stores, restaurants, and produce stands, institutional cafeterias and kitchens, and industrial sources like employee lunchrooms".The states remain free to define food waste differently for their purposes,though many choose not to.CausesProductionIndevelopinganddeveloped countrieswhich operate eithercommercialorindustrialagriculture, food waste can occur at most stages of thefood industryand in significant amounts.Insubsistence agriculture, the amounts of food waste are unknown, but are likely to be insignificant by comparison, due to the limited stages at which waste can occur, and given that food is grown for projected need as opposed to aglobal marketplacedemand.Nevertheless, on-farm losses in storage in developing countries, particularly inAfrican countries, can be high although the exact nature of such losses is much debated.Research into the food industry of theUnited States, whose food supply is the most diverse and abundant of any country in the world, found food waste occurring at the beginning of food production.From planting, crops can be subjected topest infestationsandsevere weather,which cause losses before harvest.Since natural forces (e.g. temperature and precipitation)remain the primary drivers of crop growth, losses from these can be experienced by all forms of outdoor agriculture.The use ofmachineryin harvesting can cause waste, as harvesters may be unableto discern between ripe and immature crops, or collect only part of a crop.Economic factors,such as regulations and standards for quality and appearance,alsocause food waste; farmers often harvest selectively, preferring to leave crops not to standard in the field (where they can be used as fertilizer or animal feed), since they would otherwise be discarded later.In urban areas, fruit and nut trees often go unharvested because people either don't realize that the fruit is edible or they fear that it is contaminated, despite research which shows that urban fruit is safe to consume.Food processingFood waste continues in thepost-harveststage, but the amountsofpost-harvest lossinvolved are relatively unknown and difficult to estimate.Regardless, the variety of factors that contribute to food waste, both biological/environmental andsocio-economical, would limit the usefulness and reliability of generalfigures.Instorage, considerable quantitative losses canbe attributed topestsandmicro-organisms.This is a particular problem for countries that experience a combination of heat (around 30 °C) and ambient humidity (between 70 and 90 per cent), as such conditions encourage the reproduction of insect pests and micro-organisms.Losses in thenutritional value,caloric valueand edibility of crops, by extremes of temperature, humidity or the action of micro-organisms,also account for food waste;these "qualitative losses" are more difficult to assess than quantitative ones.Further losses are generated in the handling of food and by shrinkage in weight or volume.Some of the food waste produced byprocessingcan be difficult to reduce without affecting the qualityof the finished product.Food safety regulationsare able to claim foods which contradict standards before they reach markets.Although this can conflict with efforts to reuse food waste (such asin animal feed),safety regulations are in place to ensure the health of the consumer; they are vitally important, especially in the processing offoodstuffs of animal origin(e.g. meat and dairy products), as contaminated products from these sources can lead to and are associated withmicrobiologicalandchemicalhazards.RetailPackagingprotects food from damage during its transportation from farms and factories via warehouses to retailing, as well as preserving its freshness upon arrival.Although
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