Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Help #HappyPlateSG to Fight Food Wastage in Singapore (65 Million Kgs a Month)!

Food wastage is such a huge heartache. Singapore generated 791 million kg of food waste in 2016 - more than two million kg a day - and that's a 41.5 per cent increase over the past decade.

It's not just a blow to sustainability but to our wallets as well. Electrolux Singapore recently commissioned a survey on food waste generated in our homes. It found Singaporeans discard a staggering $200 million worth of expired food a year*!

*calculated using an estimated $170 per household in a year, multiply by 1,263,600 households in Singapore (household numbers retrieved from Singstat)

Here are some of the findings, good and bad:

The study is the third edition of Electrolux Singapore’s annual #HappyPlateSG
community initiative, which started in 2015. Previous years focused on consumption of ‘ugly food’ and finishing of meals to prevent food wastage.

Mr Douglas Chua, General Manager of Electrolux Singapore, Hong Kong and
Taiwan, said: “Tackling food waste is the cornerstone of our yearly initiative. This year, our focus is on food in storage, such as pantries and refrigerators. Often, we buy food, store them, but end up forgetting to consume them before their indicated dates on the packaging. This results in their eventual disposal. We want to encourage behavioural change that will allow for greater food sustainability and reduced waste.”

Ms Fiona Chia, Director of nutrition consultancy Health Can Be Fun, said: “Some food that are nearing or have exceeded the indicated date may still be eaten.” “An ‘Expires On’ date applies if there is a health risk in eating the item after that date. A ‘Best Before’ date is used as a guide to indicate how long a product can retain its peak quality and freshness. A ‘Sell By’ date acts as a reference for retailers, to let them know how long an item can be put on display for sale,” she added.

Mr Eric Low, Chef-Owner of Lush Epicurean Culinary Consultancy and author of six cook books, said: “Managing food nearing or have passed the indicated date is on a case by case basis. Different categories of food do not deteriorate at the same rate. Storage methods such as optimal temperature, frozen and vacuum sealing also help prolong the food lifespan.”

A dedicated microsite happyplate.sg will include tips on reducing food waste, how to be involved, recipe inspirations, “Ask Happy Plate”, among others. “Ask Happy Plate” is a new column featuring food experts, chefs and nutritionists, and will answer the public’s questions on food management.

The theme for this year is #SeasonYourEx, a short form for Season Your Expiring Food. There's a tongue in cheek video on Facebook playing on the word "ex" which kinda reminds me of Circles.Life's Break Up Campaign.

The aim is to change consumers’ mindsets that expiring and leftover food are not as tasty as fresh food. With creative recipes and cooking tips, you can make expiring and leftover food, from perishables (fruits, vegetables, eggs) to packaged items (canned produce) taste just as good.

HappyPlateSG is also using social media can help spread awareness on using expiring food. You can help in two easy steps:

•                  Post a photo of an expired, or soon to be expired, food or leftover item in your home on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and share what you can do with it
•                  Hashtag #SeasonYourEx #HappyPlateSG

Please make your post public.

For every 5 #hashtags and/or social media shares, Electrolux will fund the costs of running The Food Bank Singapore’s van for one day. The van collects donated food items from collection points across Singapore, and distributes them to beneficiaries.

Meanwhile, we could all plan our meals better, be more mindful of what's in our pantry, keep a minimalist larder (most supermarkets are so nearby, we don't need to stock everything) and when things do still expire...take a second look before we toss it out.

Prevention, I think, is still better than finding creative ways to save food.


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