'Wonky veg' should be sold as standard to cut food waste, MPs say

Sean Morrison
Wonky veg: Supermarkets are being urged to sell misshapen vegetables as standard: AFP/Getty Images

Supermarkets should sell “wonky” vegetables as part of their main fruit and veg lines to help cut food waste, MPs have urged.

Misshapen carrots and parsnips do not taste differently from better looking ones and should be saved from shops’ reject bins, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee chairman Neil Parish said.

According to the committee, supermarkets and the Government need to do more to tackle Britain’s food waste problem, which it said sees £10billion worth of food thrown away by households every year.

In a report, they said also that “best-before” dates should be reviewed and potentially scrapped as MPs say they can be misleading.

MPs say food waste would be cut if supermarkets started selling more 'wonky veg' (AFP/Getty Images)

The MPs said the Government should set an "ambitious" national reduction target to cut the food waste that costs the average person £200 a year.

They added that it should examine how lessons on the topic can be incorporated into the school curriculum as raising awareness on food waste should be a priority.

Supermarkets should be required to publish data on the amount of food they bin, the report said while commending Tesco for already doing so and Sainsbury’s for moving towards it.

The committee said the waste reduction body Wrap, which has seen its public funding cut, should be given a sufficient amount of money from the Government to maintain its efforts.

£10billion worth of food thrown away by households every year, according to the report (AFP/Getty Images)

Food businesses and retailers over a certain size should be forced to separate food waste for collection, the report suggested.

And the amount of surplus food given to charities should be increased, and more re-sealable packets should be rolled out to help consumers reduce waste, it added.

Mr Parish said: "Economically, food waste costs households hundreds of pounds a year and causes increased disposal costs to local authorities, pushing up council tax bills.

"Socially, it is a scandal that people are going hungry and using food banks when so much produce is being wasted.

"And environmentally it is a disaster, because energy and resources are wasted in production only for the food to end up rotting in landfills where it produces methane - a potent climate-changing gas."

He called for the Government to drive progress on reducing food waste in England with a national target in the same way that Scotland, the US and European countries do.

He said: "And supermarkets need to do much more. It's ridiculous that perfectly good vegetables are wasted simply because they're a funny shape.

"Farmers supplying fruits and vegetables to UK supermarkets currently get their produce rejected on the grounds that it fails to meet cosmetic quality standards set by the big retailers.

"Knobbly carrots and parsnips don't cook or taste any different. It's high time we saved them from the supermarket reject bins.”

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