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Foreign Policy Analysis
EPA, USDA and FDA are working together through their Winning on Reducing Food Waste Initiative

EPA, USDA and FDA are working together through their Winning on Reducing Food Waste Initiative

Hi, I’m Andrew Wheeler, Administrator of
the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. I’d like take a moment to talk about an
issue that impacts the environment and public health. Unnecessary food loss and waste. Did you know food accounts for the largest
share of our municipal solid waste? It is estimated that between 30 and 40 percent
of available food in the United States is wasted every year. This translates into missed opportunities
to feed those in need and or re-use our food resources in other creative ways. And wasted food means wasted water resources. Recent studies indicate over 20 percent of
the water that’s used to grow our food is wasted because of the large amount of food
we throw away every year. We can do better and we need to. Food recovery and waste prevention not only
helps the environment and those in need, but it also helps the U.S. business community
and ultimately our overall economy better succeed. Such prevention and recovery activities account
for roughly 50,000 direct and indirect jobs in the U.S. Through the USDA-EPA- FDA Winning on Reducing
Food Waste Initiative, EPA is encouraging businesses, non-profit organizations, as well
as States, Territories, Tribes and Local Governments to partner with the federal government to
inform consumers on the importance of reducing food loss and waste through prevention, donation,
and recycling strategies. EPA’s Food Recovery Hierarchy is also used
nationwide. This is a tool that my agency developed for
the public to use to implement the most effective strategies possible to address this issue. So let’s make a difference and encourage
others to join our cause. Reducing food waste not only helps those most
in need, but it also protects the environment and makes better use of our natural resources. Hi, I’m Sonny Perdue, U.S. Secretary
of Agriculture. As the world’s population continues to grow,
we need to act to reduce food loss and waste. Our nation’s agricultural abundance should be used to nourish those in need, not to fill our landfills. While it’s true that a big percentage of our food supply is lost or wasted, every component of our supply chain can play an active role in the fight against food loss and waste. Starting with the producer and ending with the consumer. Reducing food loss and waste is common sense. USDA works with farmers, industry and academic
partners to research on new technologies that help reduce food loss and waste. Businesses across the country are stepping up. Since 2016, 25 businesses have been named U.S. Food Loss and Waste 2030 champions. This is USDA and EPA’s campaign that recognizes manufacturers, grocers, restaurants, and other businesses that have made a commitment to reduce food loss and waste in their operations by 50 percent by 2030. And we’re calling on more businesses to make this commitment also. Food waste hits the family budget as well. Each year the average American family of four loses approximately $1500 to uneaten food. USDA has created a free tool. The FoodKeeper App, which offers storage advice for more than 650 food and beverage items. This resource can help families shop smart and save more. From the farm to the supermarket to the dinner table, we can all make changes that will benefit our families, our communities, our environment, and our nation. Together we can work to fulfill USDA’s motto to do right and feed everyone. Hi. I’m Ned Sharpless, the Acting Commissioner
of the Food and Drug Administration. FDA has a mandate to help ensure all Americans
have access to safe, wholesome food. Minimizing food waste helps to eliminate food
insecurity domestically and abroad. Addressing the food loss and waste challenges
in the U.S. will require innovative thinking and collaboration among organizations and
individuals from all corners of America. FDA is working with USDA and EPA under a formal
agreement to help educate consumers, engage stakeholders, and develop solutions to reduce
food loss and waste. This is an opportunity to align efforts across
the federal government to collectively approach an important issue that impacts every American. The priorities we outlined in April provide
a roadmap for our future efforts and emphasize the importance of partnerships with private
organizations such as ReFED and the Food Waste Reduction Alliance. FDA is committed to improving consumer knowledge
about the safety and quality of food purchased, including understanding what the date labels
on packaged foods mean. We are also committed to working with industry
to standardize the way these date labels are used on packaged foods. We’ve done this through various consumer
educational materials, such as tip sheets and infographics. In May, FDA issued a letter to the food industry
supporting their efforts to standardize voluntary date labeling and the use of the phrase, “best
if used by” when the date label is related to product quality. Consistent date labeling can provide consumers
with information that is easier to understand. We also engage with stakeholders, state, local
and tribal health departments to identify and address obstacles to effective food donation
and food recovery. The goal is to help ensure unsold food that
is donated by retailers and food service is safe and offers a second opportunity to nourish
Americans in need. There’s no reason for safe and wholesome
food to go to landfills when we know how many families struggle to meet their nutritional
needs. Furthermore, we advise companies about repurposing
and reconditioning foods so that these products, when safe, can often be sold or donated rather
than being wasted, when feasible and appropriate. FDA’s experts regularly field questions
about what can be done safely with food ingredients or finished products that may not conform
to regulations, industry standards or company specifications. We will continue to consider how FDA regulations
and guidance impact the ability for food firms and facilities to safely and legally donate
surplus foods. It is important that public and private organizations
understand how emerging technologies and infrastructure improvements may assist in our collective
efforts to reduce food loss and waste. We recognize that encouraging more efficient food recovery will require our three agencies to work closely with stakeholders and encourage new innovations across the food sector. That’s why my federal partners and I introduced the Winning on Reducing Food Waste Initiative. Through a formal agreement and interagency strategy, we are improving our efforts and bringing new energy and attention to this important issue.

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