World throws out $400B of food per year; here’s how to help reduce the waste

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LONDON (CNNMoney) — Old, rotten food is part of a growing $400 billion problem.

That’s how much food is wasted by consumers every year around the world, according to a new report by U.K. nonprofit Waste & Resources Action Programme.

The vast majority of food is wasted in Asia, followed by Europe and then North America.

The report is based on United Nations estimates that consumers waste 280 million tons of food each year.

To put that in perspective, that food waste could fill the MetLife stadium in New Jersey to the brim 560 times.

The U.K. organization, which calls itself WRAP for short, outlines that tens or even hundreds of billions of dollars in food could be saved if consumers were more careful.

“Practical changes, such as lowering the average temperatures of refrigerators or designing better packaging, can make a considerable difference in preventing spoilage,” the organization said in a press release.

According to the report, simplifying date labeling on food has helped reduce food waste; single date labels using “use by” and “best before” dates help along with “freeze by date shown” labeling rather than “freeze on day of purchase.”

Processing and packaging can also hep to increase shelf-life for consumers, such as by vacuum-packing or reclosable packaging.

WRAP estimates that one-quarter of food waste in the developing world could be eliminated with better refrigeration equipment.

But this problem goes well beyond consumer carelessness. Veggies rot on the fields and food can become damaged during processing and distribution.

The UN estimates that 415 million tons of food is wasted at the agriculture level every year and 600 million tons is wasted after harvest, before it reaches consumers.

For the entire report, click here.

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