According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans throw away nearly 40% of their food each year, exacerbating hunger, adding to landfills and costing millions.
The 40% figure is the driving force behind a new USDA-EPA program calling on producer groups, processors, manufacturers, retailers, communities and government agencies to limit the amount of food that is thrown away.
"The United States enjoys the most productive and abundant food supply on earth, but too much of this food goes to waste," USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said. "Not only could this food be going to folks who need it – we also have an opportunity to reduce the amount of food that ends up in America's landfills."
Joint venture includes new way forward for limiting food waste to save money and improve the environment
Through the program, the U.S. Food Waste Challenge, USDA pledged to reduce waste in the school meals program, educate consumers about food waste and food storage, and develop new technologies to reduce food waste.
USDA said it would also work with industry donate imported produce that does not meet quality standards, streamline procedures for donating wholesome misbranded meat and poultry products, update U.S. food loss estimates at the retail level, and pilot-test a meat-composting program to reduce the amount of meat being sent to landfills from food safety inspection labs.
Additionally, Vilsack said USDA would be using social media to develop a food storage application and better inform consumers of the meanings of sell-by and use-by dates.
EPA's Food Recovery Challenge operates on a hierarchy of most preferred to least preferred methods of food disposal.
EPA will participate via its Food Recovery Challenge, a program first started in 2010, by providing direct technical assistance, a tracking system, and recognition to help support and motivate organizations to reduce their food waste.