Definitions of “food waste” & “food loss”
Food supply chains begin from the primary agricultural phase, proceed with manufacturing and retail, and end with household consumption. During this life cycle, food is lost or wasted because of technological, economic and/or societal reasons. The definitions of “food waste” and “food loss”within the supply chain have been a subject of disagreement among the related scientists.
According to the EU Commission Council Directive 2008/98/EC, “waste” is defined as “any substance or object, which the holder discards or intends or is required to discard”. According to the Foresight Project report prepared by The Government Office for Science (GO-Science) (UK, 2011), food waste is defined as “edible material intended for human consumption that is discarded, lost, degraded or consumed by pests as food travels from harvest to consumer”. 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 including food diverted to material uses such as bio-based products, animal feed, or sent for redistribution” (i.e. food donation).
“Food loss” refers to quantitative and qualitative reductions in the amount and value of food. The qualitative loss corresponds to the loss of caloric and nutritive value, loss of quality and loss of edibility. Quantitative loss refers to the decrease in edible food mass throughout the part of the supply chain that specifically leads to edible food for human consumption. Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) 2014 global voluntary definitional framework defined “food loss” as the decrease in quantity or quality of food, caused mainly by food production and supply system functioning or its institutional and legal framework. Thereby, “food loss” occurs throughout the food supply chain. Moreover, FAO distinguishes “food waste” as an important part of “food loss”, which refers to the removal of food from the supply chain, which fits for consumption by choice or has been left to spoil or expire as a result of negligence (predominantly but not exclusively) by the final consumer at household level.
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