The heads of the USDA, FDA and EPA announced today they will be working in tandem to cut down on crops left unharvested and reduce the food that goes uneaten and into landfills every year.
“Food accounts for the largest share of municipal solid waste,” reads the agreement signed by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler and FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb. “In the United States, we throw away more than 75 billion pounds of food annually and one third of food available is not eaten. In order to reduce food loss and waste it will take the entire supply chain working together to achieve innovative solutions.”
Under the agreement, the EPA will try to reduce the amount of food that goes into landfills while the FDA will educate people on how they can safely keep food longer, and the USDA will concentrate on reducing post-harvest waste.
The biggest hurdle faced by USDA is helping to glean safe food from fields or orchards that often goes to waste solely because of its appearance.
“That means a network of using … non-marketable, not aesthetic products,” Perdue said at a press conference after signing the agreement. “We’ve gotten so spoiled in the United States over wanting that perfect apple or tomato … There are a lot of nutritious, healthy foods we leave in the field because it’s not deemed marketable …”
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It’s not just misshapen melons or off-color apples that add to U.S. food waste at a time when many around the world go hungry. Far too much retail food ends up in landfills, said Wheeler.
“Here in the U.S., food accounts for the largest share of municipal solid waste,” he said. “We all believe that we can and should find better ways to use excess food than simply throwing it away. We can use it to feed people, animals … as well as generate energy. We owe it to our farmers, businesses and communities to manage our food system …”
The three department heads also lauded efforts by companies like Walmart, PepsiCo, Kroger, Campbell Soup Company, Conagra and Unilever that are participating in the public-private partnerships to reduce food waste.
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