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食品ロス削減 消費者の意識改める第一歩に

The Yomiuri Shimbun July 16, 2013
New rule should be used to make society aware of immense food loss
食品ロス削減 消費者の意識改める第一歩に(7月15日付・読売社説)

The amount of food loss, or food that is still edible but is discarded, is increasing. Business corporations, consumers and the government must cooperate with each other to reduce this waste.

Seventeen million tons of food is discarded annually in this country. It is estimated that between 5 million and 8 million tons of the total is food loss. This almost equals the annual domestic rice crop and represents an immense waste.

lst step forward

Under the leadership of the government, which had discussed ways to deal with food loss, about 40 food producers, wholesalers, and retailers such as operators of convenience stores and supermarket chains decided to start reviewing their trade practices concerning the best-before date of processed food. This can be a first step forward in the efforts to reduce food waste.

In the food production and retail industries, there is a trade practice called the “one-third rule.” Under this rule, foodstuff is to be delivered to retailers in the first one-third of the period from the food production date to the best-before date, while in the remaining two-thirds of the period, the food is to be sold by retailers.

Food whose time limit for delivery passes is returned from wholesalers to producers, and most of it is discarded, a leading factor behind the increase in food loss.

Starting next month, the 40 companies will change the one-third rule and extend the time limit for delivery to retailers to one-half of the period from the food production date to the best-before date, if only for a certain type of processed food, such as confectionery and beverages.

This will reduce food inventories, but it may also reduce the amount of food that is discarded.

Trimming the costs needed for returning and discarding products, and for managing inventories can lower the products’ prices, which would also benefit consumers.

Unless the review of the one-third rule spreads through the entire industry, however, the effect of reducing food waste will be limited. Therefore, it is important for the government and related businesses to increase the number of those businesses adopting the new rule.

Business firms also need to make efforts to develop new technologies to improve such things as containers and packaging to extend the best-before date.

It is also necessary to raise consumers’ awareness about food waste, primarily because households account for one-half of food loss. The government must also proactively work to raise consumers’ awareness.

One-third rule deep rooted

The one-third rule has taken root in our society primarily because consumers prefer to buy fresher goods.

The best-before date for processed food is considered to mark the end of the period during which the food tastes its best.
Therefore, even if the food passes its best-before date, there is no need for it to be discarded right away.

The best-before date is different from the expiration date for perishable food, which means one should not consume it for safety reasons beyond that date.

If consumers seek freshness of foodstuffs excessively, food prices are likely to rise, which would be against the interests of the consumer. Although it is important for consumers to take food safety seriously, they should refrain from seeking food freshness too much.

With the global supply-demand situation of foodstuffs tightening, Japan depends on imports for as much as 60 percent of its food. All of society should continue making efforts to reduce food loss.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 15, 2013)
(2013年7月15日01時31分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2013-07-17 07:25 | 英字新聞

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