Toward Sustainable Food Systems: Approaches and Strategies to Prevent and Reduce Food Loss and Waste

A special issue of Foods (ISSN 2304-8158). This special issue belongs to the section "Food Security and Sustainability".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (25 September 2022) | Viewed by 66382

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Centro Euro-Mediterraneo sui Cambiamenti Climatici (CMCC-IAFES), via Marco Biagi 5, 73100 Lecce, Italy
Interests: sustainable food systems; food policy; water policy; sustainable diets; urban food policy; food waste

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Co-Guest Editor
Centre for Food Policy, City University, London EC1V 0HB, UK
Interests: sustainable food systems; food policy
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Co-Guest Editor
Agricultural Development Economics Division (ESA), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 00153 Rome, Italy
Interests: economics of deforestation; environmental program design; migration; rural–urban linkages; resilient food systems

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Food waste is one of the most important issues faced by current food systems: in 2011, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimated that more than one-third of food is either lost or wasted along the entire food supply chain, causing significant economic, social, and environmental impacts.

Food loss and waste is recognized as one of the most challenging distortions of current food system, as we produce tons of edible food waste every year. Food loss occurs from the farm up to but excluding retail, whereas food waste occurs at the retail, food service, and household levels. Causes range from poor handling, inadequate transport or storage, lack of cold chain capacity, extreme weather conditions, cosmetic standards, and consumer behavior.

Reducing food lost and waste can lead to more food for all, less greenhouse gas emissions, less pressure on water and land resources, increased productivity and economic growth, and more sustainable societies. This is integral to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda of the United Nations.

Against this background, this Special Issue focuses on innovative approaches and strategies to prevent and reduce food loss and waste. We welcome contributions focused on, but not limited to, the following topics:

  • Business case studies and solutions emphasizing the quantification and valorization of loss and waste along the full supply chain;
  • Digital innovation, novel apps, platforms, and social media for preventing, monitoring, managing, and reducing food loss and waste;
  • The investigation of individuals’ purchase and consumption behavior for food waste prevention;
  • Food (waste) policy experiences at the regional, national, and local levels;
  • New approaches and methodologies for food loss and waste quantification;
  • Investigations into the social and environmental impacts of food loss and waste. Strategies, experiences, and response measures that emerged in the context of COVID-19 are encouraged.

Previously unpublished original research papers and reviews are welcome.


Dr. Marta Antonelli
Guest Editor
Dr. Christian Reynolds

Dr. Andrea Cattaneo
Co-Guest Editors

Published Papers (13 papers)

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Research

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12 pages, 933 KiB  
Article
Reducing Food Waste in Buffet Restaurants: A Corporate Management Approach
by Chi-Mei Emily Wu and Chih-Ching Teng
Foods 2023, 12(1), 162; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods12010162 - 28 Dec 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 8486
Abstract
Food waste has become a significant issue in the foodservice industry. However, food waste management in buffet restaurants has rarely been investigated. Considering the popularity of buffet restaurants in Taiwan, this study serves as the first attempt to identify a corporate management approach [...] Read more.
Food waste has become a significant issue in the foodservice industry. However, food waste management in buffet restaurants has rarely been investigated. Considering the popularity of buffet restaurants in Taiwan, this study serves as the first attempt to identify a corporate management approach to food waste reduction in Taiwanese buffet restaurants. The study case comprises two buffet restaurants of a large chain restaurant company in Taiwan. This study uses both individual in-depth interviews and a focus group, comprising 15 managers, chefs, and front-line employees. The results identify various strategies to mitigate food waste in buffet restaurants at different stages of operation: establishing a central kitchen, cooperating with qualified suppliers, accurate forecasting of food demand, aesthetic buffet table design, redesigning the service method, continually monitoring food waste, and proactive communication to customers. The 3R (Reduce–Reuse–Recycle) food waste hierarchy is also developed to encourage buffet restaurant practitioners to design appropriate food waste mitigation programs. Full article
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19 pages, 2347 KiB  
Article
Food Banks against Climate Change, a Solution That Works: A Case Study in Navarra, Spain
by Josemi G. Penalver, Alejandra Armijos, Beatriz Soret and Maite M. Aldaya
Foods 2022, 11(22), 3645; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods11223645 - 15 Nov 2022
Viewed by 2235
Abstract
Worldwide, more than 1.3 billion tonnes of food are wasted each year, which is equivalent to releasing 4.4 Gt of CO2 equivalents (CO2e). In this context, the Food Bank of Navarra (FBN) annually avoids the waste of approximately 3000 tons [...] Read more.
Worldwide, more than 1.3 billion tonnes of food are wasted each year, which is equivalent to releasing 4.4 Gt of CO2 equivalents (CO2e). In this context, the Food Bank of Navarra (FBN) annually avoids the waste of approximately 3000 tons of perfectly consumable food. The aim of this study was twofold: on the one hand, to analyse the carbon footprint of the FBN and, on the other hand, to perform a comparative analysis of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in two scenarios, “with” and “without” the actions of the FBN, in order to identify and quantify the environmental benefits, in terms of GHG emissions reduction, associated with the reduction in food waste. The analyses were conducted in two different years. The carbon footprint associated with the FBN’s activities was 147 t of CO2e in the year 2018. The quantification of GHGs in the scenario “without the FBN” showed that if the FBN did not exist 4715 t of CO2e would have been emitted. The results obtained in consecutive years were similar, highlighting the importance of the FBN—not only in social terms but also environmental terms—as it prevented a large amount of GHGs from being emitted into the atmosphere. A detailed account of the carbon emission reduction associated with the food bank’s operations and the knowledge of the benefits involved could boost their positive effects in facilitating the integration of their activities into policies aimed at climate neutrality. Full article
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14 pages, 4275 KiB  
Article
Exploring Consumers’ Understanding and Perception of Sustainable Food Packaging in the UK
by Victoria Norton, Carys Waters, Omobolanle O. Oloyede and Stella Lignou
Foods 2022, 11(21), 3424; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods11213424 - 28 Oct 2022
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 6371
Abstract
There is a growing emphasis on sustainability; however, not all food packaging fits this remit and consumer knowledge is typically lacking. This paper investigates UK consumers’ understanding, perception and preferences relating to sustainable food packaging and the impact that adding information to this [...] Read more.
There is a growing emphasis on sustainability; however, not all food packaging fits this remit and consumer knowledge is typically lacking. This paper investigates UK consumers’ understanding, perception and preferences relating to sustainable food packaging and the impact that adding information to this packaging has on consumers’ behaviour. Consumers (n = 405) completed an online survey covering the following sections: (1) sustainability habits and knowledge; (2) utilising images to understand the role of labelling; and (3) determining key sustainable packaging attributes. Consumers regularly recycle plastic, cardboard, metal, paper, and glass, as well as showing willingness towards recycling; however, they lack knowledge of the correct recycling procedures. Labelling was successful in changing consumer behaviour and encouraging more sustainable choices. Consumers identified key sustainable packaging attributes as biodegradability, disposal methods, renewable sources, recyclability, no excess packaging, and product quality. The main themes from this survey relate to consumers typically being confused about recycling and often lacking knowledge about sustainable materials. More targeted education is needed to help consumers, coupled with additional support from companies and governments, to ensure consumers can make sustainable choices. Full article
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18 pages, 479 KiB  
Article
The Need for Consumer-Focused Household Food Waste Reduction Policies Using Dietary Patterns and Socioeconomic Status as Predictors: A Study on Wheat Bread Waste in Shiraz, Iran
by Shahin Ghaziani, Delaram Ghodsi, Karsten Schweikert, Gholamreza Dehbozorgi, Hamid Rasekhi, Shiva Faghih and Reiner Doluschitz
Foods 2022, 11(18), 2886; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods11182886 - 17 Sep 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1985
Abstract
Current household food waste (HFW) reduction plans usually focus on raising consumer awareness, which is essential but insufficient because HFW is predominantly attributed to unconscious behavioral factors that vary across consumer groups. Therefore, identifying such factors is crucial for predicting HFW levels and [...] Read more.
Current household food waste (HFW) reduction plans usually focus on raising consumer awareness, which is essential but insufficient because HFW is predominantly attributed to unconscious behavioral factors that vary across consumer groups. Therefore, identifying such factors is crucial for predicting HFW levels and establishing effective plans. This study explored the role of dietary patterns (DP) and socioeconomic status (SES) as predictors of HBW using linear and non-linear regression models. Questionnaire interviews were performed in 419 households in Shiraz during 2019. A multilayer sampling procedure including stratification, clustering, and systematic sampling was used. Three main DPs, i.e., unhealthy, Mediterranean, and traditional, were identified using a food frequency questionnaire. Results indicated that a one-unit rise in the household’s unhealthy DP score was associated with an average increase in HBW of 0.40%. Similarly, a one-unit increase in the unhealthy DP score and the SES score increased the relative likelihood of bread waste occurrence by 25.6% and 14.5%, respectively. The comparison of findings revealed inconsistencies in HFW data, and therefore the necessity of studying HFW links to factors such as diet and SES. Further investigations that explore HFW associations with household characteristics and behavioral factors will help establish contextual and effective consumer-focused plans. Full article
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20 pages, 1374 KiB  
Article
How to Reduce Food Waste Caused by Normative Illusion? A Study Based on Evolutionary Game Model Analysis
by Mengling Tian and Yangyang Zheng
Foods 2022, 11(14), 2162; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods11142162 - 21 Jul 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1791
Abstract
Reducing food waste is a priority for all sectors of society as it threatens national food security and the sustainability of global agriculture. Many studies on food waste have focused on a single subject, and the psychological factors of consumer waste are often [...] Read more.
Reducing food waste is a priority for all sectors of society as it threatens national food security and the sustainability of global agriculture. Many studies on food waste have focused on a single subject, and the psychological factors of consumer waste are often overlooked. Based on evolutionary game theory, this paper introduces consumers’ normative illusion, constructs an evolutionary game model in which the government, caterers and consumers collaborate to reduce food waste, and simulates and analyses the behavioural strategies of the three stakeholders. The results show that: Firstly, food waste can be reduced under certain conditions by incentive-guided and punishment-inhibited policies. Moreover, incentive-guided policies can reduce government expenditures more than punishment-inhibited ones. Secondly, implementation of prior intervention, the resultant intervention and reducing the probability of consumers’ aversion to the intervention of caterers can optimise the government’s punishment-inhibited policy. Finally, under the punishment-inhibited policy, caterers can bear 60% of the prior intervention costs for food waste management. When caterers invest 40–60% of the prior intervention costs, both caterers and consumers can achieve the ideal state of cooperation; caterers can accept 40% of the resultant intervention cost for food waste management, and when the resultant intervention cost is less than 40%, consumers choose not to waste. Both caterers and consumers are involved in reducing food waste when the probability of consumer dissatisfaction with a caterer’s intervention is reduced to less than 40%. Full article
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15 pages, 1906 KiB  
Article
The Role of the Food Banks in Saving Freshwater Resources through Reducing Food Waste: The Case of the Food Bank of Navarra, Spain
by Josemi G. Penalver and Maite M. Aldaya
Foods 2022, 11(2), 163; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods11020163 - 09 Jan 2022
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2832
Abstract
In the year 2011, the FAO estimated that food loss and waste reached one third of the total food produced worldwide. Since then, numerous studies have been published characterizing this problem and reflecting on its repercussions, not only social, but also environmental. Food [...] Read more.
In the year 2011, the FAO estimated that food loss and waste reached one third of the total food produced worldwide. Since then, numerous studies have been published characterizing this problem and reflecting on its repercussions, not only social, but also environmental. Food wastage triggers unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation or loss of biodiversity. This study aims to quantify the water-related benefits associated with food loss and waste reduction by studying the Food Bank of Navarra (FBN). For this purpose, the water footprint assessment manual has been followed. First, the water footprint of the activities of the FBN has been analysed for the year 2018 (scenario with the FBN). A comparative analysis has been carried out between the scenario with the FBN and a theoretical scenario without the action of the FBN. This has allowed us to highlight the benefits associated with the activity of this entity. The FBN not only avoided the waste of 2.7 thousand tons of food suitable for consumption in 2018, but also avoided the unnecessary use of more than 3.2 million m3 of freshwater. As a result of the present investigation, it can be stated that promoting food banks, which avoid food waste, would be an effective way to contribute to the protection and conservation of water resources. Full article
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16 pages, 644 KiB  
Article
Food Loss and Waste Actions: Experiences of the Costa Rican Food Loss and Waste Reduction Network
by Carolina Bolaños-Palmieri, María Fernanda Jiménez-Morales, Julián Rojas-Vargas, Manrique Arguedas-Camacho and Laura Brenes-Peralta
Foods 2021, 10(10), 2358; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods10102358 - 03 Oct 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 3110
Abstract
Food Loss and Waste (FLW) reduction and prevention can be crucial entry points to achieve sustainable food systems. However, the complexity of this problem poses the need for multistakeholder and multidimensional approaches. The Costa Rican FLW Reduction Network has been working since 2014 [...] Read more.
Food Loss and Waste (FLW) reduction and prevention can be crucial entry points to achieve sustainable food systems. However, the complexity of this problem poses the need for multistakeholder and multidimensional approaches. The Costa Rican FLW Reduction Network has been working since 2014 as a collaborative platform that brings together different sectors and disciplines to promote a change through communication and awareness, alliances, and research and innovation. The purpose of our study was to share the experience of Costa Rica in regards to the applied FLW actions and its catalytic effect on FLW innovation. The study was developed through a multimethod approach that included case studies, stakeholder analysis and literacy analysis to provide an overall assessment of the strategy as input for further efforts in this matter. The main findings indicate that collaborative actions among institutions and sectors are vital in promoting FLW reduction; however, FLW innovation is still at an inception phase where financial resources and policy barriers remain as aspects to address. In conclusion, the Costa Rica FLW Network represents an asset to trigger ongoing and future actions, and approaches like an integrated innovation ecosystem must be promoted. Full article
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17 pages, 605 KiB  
Article
Determinants and Prevention Strategies for Household Food Waste: An Exploratory Study in Taiwan
by Chih-Ching Teng, Chueh Chih, Wen-Ju Yang and Chia-Hui Chien
Foods 2021, 10(10), 2331; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods10102331 - 30 Sep 2021
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 4442
Abstract
Given the large amount of food waste coming from households, reducing household food waste is essential to the mitigation of overall food waste and the provision of multi-faceted benefits for both people and the planet. This study identifies factors and management strategies for [...] Read more.
Given the large amount of food waste coming from households, reducing household food waste is essential to the mitigation of overall food waste and the provision of multi-faceted benefits for both people and the planet. This study identifies factors and management strategies for the reduction of household food waste in the Taiwanese household setting. Using snowball sampling, semi-structured interviews are conducted to collect data from 27 household food providers in Taipei. The research findings identify four critical motivators and four barriers to minimizing household food waste in Taiwan. The most frequently mentioned motivator for the reduction of food waste is a convenient shopping environment, and the most important barrier is lack of knowledge for assessing the edibility of food. Additionally, four major prevention strategies are identified to help reduce household food waste: (1) planned purchase schedule; (2) skills to keep food fresh and longer; (3) understanding family preferences and leftover management, and (4) sharing additional food and co-procurement and cooking. The results of this study not only help improve the understanding and application of Chinese household food waste reduction, but also demonstrate the significance of its socio-cultural impacts in future studies. Full article
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9 pages, 283 KiB  
Article
Food Waste and Qualitative Evaluation of Menus in Public University Canteens—Challenges and Opportunities
by Cristina Aires, Cristina Saraiva, Maria Conceição Fontes, Daniel Moreira, Márcio Moura-Alves and Carla Gonçalves
Foods 2021, 10(10), 2325; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods10102325 - 30 Sep 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 3658
Abstract
Background: This study aims to evaluate food waste and menu quality in two canteens (A and B) from a Portuguese public university in order to identify challenges and opportunities to improve the food service. Methods: Food waste included the analysis of two canteens [...] Read more.
Background: This study aims to evaluate food waste and menu quality in two canteens (A and B) from a Portuguese public university in order to identify challenges and opportunities to improve the food service. Methods: Food waste included the analysis of two canteens over 5 consecutive days by selective aggregate weighing. A qualitative evaluation of a 5-week menu cycle related to lunches was performed through the Qualitative Evaluation of Menus (AQE-d) method. Results: Both menus have “satisfactory” evaluations and lower adequacy to the dietary guidelines in criteria A, which evaluates general items from the dish, and in criteria B, which evaluates meat, fish and eggs. The calculated mean of food waste in both canteens exceeded the acceptable limit of 10%, except for the vegetarian (7.5%) dish in canteen A. The biggest waste was found in the vegetarian dish (16.8%) in canteen A. In meat dishes the conduit presents more waste (17.0%) than in fish and vegetarian dishes. Among these, the vegetables were the most wasted (25.3% and 27.9%, respectively). Conclusion: This work presents some insights to future interventions in the direction of a healthier and more sustainable foodservice. Full article
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22 pages, 1876 KiB  
Article
Household Food Metabolism: Losses, Waste and Environmental Pressures of Food Consumption at the Regional Level in Spain
by Monica Di Donato and Óscar Carpintero
Foods 2021, 10(6), 1166; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods10061166 - 22 May 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 12633
Abstract
Dealing with an increasing population is challenging the global food system not only in productive terms, but also through the associated environmental pressures. A growing diagnostic effort is being made by global and national agencies. Innovative approaches are needed to support effective policy [...] Read more.
Dealing with an increasing population is challenging the global food system not only in productive terms, but also through the associated environmental pressures. A growing diagnostic effort is being made by global and national agencies. Innovative approaches are needed to support effective policy efforts. This study aims to illustrate the potentialities of the household metabolism approach in the diagnosis of the environmental pressures derived from household food consumption, using the Spanish regions and the effects of the 2008 crisis as case studies. The direct information concerning food consumption in physical terms provided by the Spanish household budget survey is used to estimate some relevant environmental pressures (food losses and waste along the food chain, as well as water and carbon footprint) for the Spanish food system at a sub-national level. These data are directly translated into differences in environmental pressures and compared with other dietary profiles. Furthermore, the physical information of environmental pressures is related to household socio-economic status, showing the potentialities of the association with household socio-economic information. Finally, our data illustrate with some examples how the economic crisis has acted as a driver of change in food consumption, promoting a better environmental performance at the cost of poorer diets. Full article
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18 pages, 7619 KiB  
Article
Addressing the Location Problem of a Perishables Redistribution Center in the Middle of Europe
by Juan Carlos Pérez-Mesa, M. Mar Serrano-Arcos, José Felipe Jiménez-Guerrero and Raquel Sánchez-Fernández
Foods 2021, 10(5), 1091; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods10051091 - 14 May 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2352
Abstract
This work aims to contribute to the debate on practical utilization of different location models for consolidation, redistribution, and repackaging centers in a supply chain to optimize shipments, thereby reducing food loss and waste, within the framework of quality of customer service improvement. [...] Read more.
This work aims to contribute to the debate on practical utilization of different location models for consolidation, redistribution, and repackaging centers in a supply chain to optimize shipments, thereby reducing food loss and waste, within the framework of quality of customer service improvement. The scenario in question is the creation of a redistribution center for highly perishable products (fruits and vegetables) from southeast Spain—the leading European supplier—for customers throughout Europe. It is estimated that 10% of exports (more than 530,000 metric tons) from this area are returned by customers due to minor defects. These products cannot be reused and are therefore wasted. Regarding the methodology, comparisons were made between the p-median, gravity p-median, and p-center models. Scenarios of change in demand and randomness in distances were also tested. In addition, the modelling used included the cost and time within a multicriteria optimization framework to assess the possibility of a transport mode change. It was observed, for example, that the gravity p-median model proved useful for perishable products and the logistics strategy chosen. Furthermore, the p-median model displayed strong robustness against long-term changes in demand and random distances. In general, it was demonstrated that this strategy would successfully reduce the response time and distance of shipment from the distribution center to the customers and thereby improve sustainability of the service, reducing the waste related to direct shipments. Furthermore, this research also demonstrated the difficulty of using intermodality in this context, mainly due to transit time, which would undoubtedly increase the waste generated. Full article
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Review

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20 pages, 31190 KiB  
Review
From Quantifying to Managing Food Loss in the Agri-Food Industry Supply Chain
by Eva M. Sánchez-Teba, Germán Gemar and Ismael Pablo Soler
Foods 2021, 10(9), 2163; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods10092163 - 13 Sep 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 3454
Abstract
The significant contradiction of food waste and food insecurity that preoccupies society today is growing increasingly important. It is estimated that one-third of all food produced globally is either lost or wasted. In a world where almost one billion people are hungry, reducing [...] Read more.
The significant contradiction of food waste and food insecurity that preoccupies society today is growing increasingly important. It is estimated that one-third of all food produced globally is either lost or wasted. In a world where almost one billion people are hungry, reducing food loss and waste is critical to creating a world with zero hunger and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns. This study analyses how scientific research concerning food loss has evolved in recent years, with a focus on the supply chain of agri-food companies. Bibliometric techniques were used to analyse a sample of 181 publications from journals indexed in the Web of Science from 2012 to 2021. The obtained results show a growing interest in this topic and a clear concern for the management and prevention of food loss. An important conclusion is that a holistic approach from a supply chain perspective is needed to devise food loss reduction strategies focusing future lines of research on stakeholder collaboration, the circular economy and related regulatory changes. The study has implications for entrepreneurs and decisionmakers due to the effect that a reduction in food loss has on business strategies, as well as for policymakers in order to create updated food safety and quality regulations. Full article
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14 pages, 419 KiB  
Review
Food Waste on Foodservice: An Overview through the Perspective of Sustainable Dimensions
by Maísa Lins, Renata Puppin Zandonadi, António Raposo and Veronica Cortez Ginani
Foods 2021, 10(6), 1175; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods10061175 - 24 May 2021
Cited by 24 | Viewed by 8896
Abstract
Food waste (FW) is a current, complex, and widely debated issue in various spheres of society. Globally, about 2.6 trillion dollars per year is lost because of wasted food. Part of FW is preventable, and it is necessary to identify where it occurs. [...] Read more.
Food waste (FW) is a current, complex, and widely debated issue in various spheres of society. Globally, about 2.6 trillion dollars per year is lost because of wasted food. Part of FW is preventable, and it is necessary to identify where it occurs. In most cases, FW occurs at the end of the production chain (meal preparation and distribution). Identifying the main food service failures on FW is important for developing efficient strategies for reducing them. Therefore, this study aimed to perform a narrative review of the impacts caused by FW in food services considering the three dimensions of sustainability (social, economic, or environmental). Multiple reasons were identified in this review that impacts those three dimensions, such as the cost of wasted raw material, use of cleaning material, the energy consumption, salary of food handlers, the water footprint, the amounts of rest-intake, production waste, energy density wasted, use of organic food, and food donation. Identifying these aspects can contribute to reduce FW impacts for better sustainable development, develop tools to measure FW, and assist food service managers in minimizing FW. Full article
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