The war against wastage

Data from a recent SAI Global survey has revealed, more than half of shoppers aren’t happy about the overuse of plastic packaging and discarded imperfect produce, across supermarkets nationally.

Use of plastics

Reportedly, survey results showed that 53 per cent of respondents reported there is too much plastic packaging and they want the practice stopped.

Food Safety Expert at SAI Global, Andrew Nash says that while he agrees that the overuse of plastics should be reduced, he explains that “unbeknownst to many shoppers, supermarkets use plastics for food safety purposes”.

“Plastic is effective in protecting high-risk foods, such as meat and dairy, from contamination through the millions of pathogens and microorganisms in the environment,” he said.

“Plastic, particularly if it’s shrink-wrapped, also helps prevent food from oxidising and spoiling quickly, and it’s a good protectant from chemicals in the atmosphere.”

Mr Nash continues, saying that plastic (in some instances) may help to reduce food waste by “providing an extra layer of protection”.

“For example, English cucumbers have a particularly thin skin and the tight plastic wrapping helps them to last longer in the fridge by acting as an insulator to protect against cold injury and also slows dehydration and spoilage,” he added.

Imperfect produce

The survey reportedly revealed that 39 per cent of Australians want retailers to stop rejecting imperfect produce.

“Shoppers should be happy to know that produce that is not in perfect shape or size presents no food safety issues,” Mr Nash said.

“It is encouraging to see that Coles this year has announced it will begin selling ‘ugly’ fruit and vegetables in the war against waste, with trials already commenced in Victoria and South Australia.”

Woolworths is known to have a similar initiative ­– the Odd Bunch campaign – which began in 2014.

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