A recent clarification in the FDA 2022 Food Code points out that restaurants and other food retailers are allowed to donate perfectly edible meals and ingredients instead of wasting them, so long as basic food safety measures are followed.
This is fantastic news. Leftover food that was once needlessly wasted, ultimately transforming into harmful polluting gases while rotting in municipal landfills, can now be used to feed the estimated 34 million Americans that go hungry, including 9 million children.
This update to the food code is a component of the Biden-Harris Administration’s National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health, which aims to reduce food insecurity by increasing access to affordable meals, among various other health-related efforts. FDA rules like this could go a long way in addressing the often invisible hunger crisis in America.
There are debilitating consequences of going without food. Fatigue, muscle weakness, tiredness, and lack of concentration are the most immediate and noticeable results of hunger, but there are other less noticeable ones that have far-reaching effects.
Academic achievement also suffers significantly in food-scarce households. Doing everything in our power to reduce food waste and feed hungry families is absolutely vital.
The safety guidelines that must be followed in order for restaurants and other food retailers are simple and are essentially the same protocols that have already been laid out by the FDA for regular handling of food: separating raw meats from vegetables, freezing perishable items in properly sealed containers, proper labeling of package contents, and so on.
If you work in the food service industry and see an opportunity to rescue perfectly good meals and ingredients from the garbage, now may be a good time to contact local pantries and charities to see if a simple donation system can be established at your restaurant. Not only will your effort help needy families, but the entire planet will benefit from the reduction of polluting gases created in landfills when good, leftover food is allowed to rot.
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