Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 12 December 2019

The way the UAE produces and wastes food must be disrupted, says minister

Minister calls for public to back social media campaign to reduce food waste

Food wastage has become an issue the world over. Sarah Dea / The National
Food wastage has become an issue the world over. Sarah Dea / The National

People across the UAE have been urged to back a new social media campaign aimed at reducing food waste.

On Wednesday, Mariam Al Mehairi, Minister of State for Food Security, called on Emiratis and residents to support the World Food Programme’s new campaign by taking a picture of a meal they have prepared with food nearing its expiration date – but is still safe to eat - and tagging their friends.

The photo should be posted accompanied with the hashtag #StopTheWaste to encourage others to do the same.

“We need to disrupt how this country is producing and consuming food,” Ms Al Mehairi said.

“We have to make an effort not to just throw food in the bin.”

She suggested giving away food to people who are less fortunate to avoid wasting it.

It is estimated that the UAE discards Dh13 billion of food each year. The country currently generates between 1.9 to 2.5kg of waste per person each day. This is more than double the amount produced in Europe and North America, Ms Al Mehairi said.

One in nine people worldwide go to bed hungry each night yet a third of all produced food ends up as waste.

The UAE was among 193 countries that signed up to the United Nations’ Agenda for Sustainable Development, which aims to have zero world hunger by 2030.

“I invite the UAE general public, the food and beverage industry, the hospitality sector and the end consumer in the UAE to join our pledge and commit to reducing food waste,” Ms Al Mehairi said.

“We must act now.”

Ms Al Muheiri described the campaign as the perfect entry point to educate people on how to help reduce food waste.

She said we owed it to future generations to teach them about the importance of avoiding food waste.

“We need to show children the effort that goes into preparing food.

“They need to spend less time behind screens and more time in the kitchen.”

Mageed Yahia, director of the WFP office in UAE and representative to the GCC region, said it was not just food that is being wasted.

“It is also about the invested money, labour and resources such as energy, land, seeds and water that go into producing this food.

“There are 821 million people who go to bed each night without knowing where their next meal is coming from.

“There is enough food in the world to feed them and we are all responsible for creating so much waste.”

How to take part in the #StopTheWaste campaign:

1. Search your fridge or pantry for a food item that is nearing its expiration date but is still safe to eat

2. Snap a selfie with your item, not forgetting to then eat it

3. Share your photo on social media using #StopTheWaste and challenge three friends by tagging them in your post

4. You can also share your food waste recipes or host a dinner party and encourage others to do the same

Updated: October 9, 2019 05:46 PM

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