The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) states that food waste is roughly 30-40 percent of the food supply within the nation. We have people with “food insecurities” (the political way of saying that those people are starving) across the country, yet there are people within walking distance of those with food insecurities who throw out food, often unnecessarily. This just does not sit well with me, and that’s why there are certain aspects of this job that I love so much.
One of the main ways my colleagues and I aid in reduction of food waste is by running “deviation reports” for our clients, nationwide. If a processor’s product does not quite meet its lethality or stabilization temperature, or a cooler has gone out and we have recorded product temperatures at certain times, we are able to review numerous databases, scientific support pieces, etc., to determine whether the product in question truly is still safe or not. I couldn’t even hazard a guess of how many pounds of product We R Food Safety! has saved for our clients, but the number of pounds saved isn’t the point. The point is: We made sure 1) product was not wasted, 2) product was still safe to consume, and 3) our clients made money on product that would have been discarded and wasted a decade ago due to lack of data and knowledge. That is what matters and helps me sleep happily at night.
Another way in which we prevent food waste is helping clients navigate the different product outcomes for corrective actions due to their food safety system record-keeping failures or regulatory non-compliances. What I mean by this is, if there is a corrective action related to regulation that isn’t necessarily a food safety issue, the product isn’t doomed to be discarded if we can help identify the difference between paper non-conformities and a true food safety concern. Again, product that is proven to be safe isn’t unnecessarily wasted.
We have a lot of hurdles daily as an industry to overcome, with food waste being a significant one. The industry has made some changes to do its part, but it can do more. The above-mentioned examples are two ways We R Food Safety! staff helps minimize food waste at the processing level. But there’s more work to do. The next hurdle I would like to see tackled as an industry: development and feasibility of biodegradable packaging with emphasis first on raw meat products.
— Abbey Davidson, Food Safety Consultant, Abbey@wrfs.pro