On April 9, 2019, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a new interagency strategy for reducing food waste, titled the Winning on Reducing Food Waste FY 2019-2020 Federal Interagency Strategy. This modernized approach to addressing food waste prioritizes six key action areas, from improving consumer education and food labeling, to the agencies working both collaboratively and independently to help reduce food loss and waste in the United States. The new interagency strategy comes after the three federal agencies signed a formal agreement in 2018, titled the Winning on Reducing Food Waste Initiative. One year later, the April 2019 announcement signifies a key step towards the U.S. government’s overall goal of reducing food waste and loss by 50 percent by 2030. The International Food Additives Council (IFAC) endorses the U.S. government’s interagency approach to reducing food waste and is committed to contributing in this endeavor.
The United States discards 30-40 percent of all available food and food comprises the largest type of waste in daily American trash. According to the EPA’s sustainable management guide, 2015 saw more than 39 million tons of food waste created and estimates food waste comprised 22 percent of all discarded municipal solid waste that same year. These numbers reflect the pressing need for streamlined regulations, simpler solutions and consistent communications to reduce food waste, enhance consumer understanding of food labels and food safety, and empower all stakeholders to take an active role in addressing this problem.
IFAC acknowledges that the responsibility to minimize food waste does not rest solely with the one group – be it the food industry, regulators, policy makers or consumers. We all eat, and it is critical that we all work together as global citizens to reduce food waste and ensure an adequate food supply for the predicted worldwide population of 10 billion people in 2050. Therefore, IFAC is especially supportive of the Federal Interagency Strategy’s fifth priority area: “Collaborate with Private Industry to Reduce Food Loss and Waste Across the Supply Chain.” While the U.S. strategy is domestic in nature, the issue of food waste is not, and IFAC looks forward to leveraging its international membership and global reach to support this key initiative. In addition, as IFAC members range from producers to end-users of food ingredients, IFAC supports food waste reduction efforts at all levels of the supply chain.
There are many ways the food industry can help prevent food waste. In addition to implementing changes to product packaging and labeling, companies can also consider product formulations and how individual ingredients may be used to protect products from spoiling. Many food additives not only help enhance the visual and textural appeal of products, but may also help extend the shelf life of foods and beverages ranging from fresh produce to more finished products such as soups and salad dressings. Safely preserving food and extending shelf life is a critical factor in reducing the likelihood that foods will be discarded.
IFAC strongly supports The Winning on Reducing Food Waste FY 2019-2020 Federal Interagency Strategy and looks forward to engaging with industry, government and consumers to help solve the total issue of food waste.