What a waste. Everyone was appalled by a recent event in Kuching where a giant bowl of Sarawak laksa was cooked, only to be thrown away after setting a Malaysian record. Such an incident should not be taken lightly as it will create a bad example of no concrete actions or steps been taken to avoid similar events from happening again in the future. It also will show a bad example to our future generations.
The issue pertaining to food waste is not something new in our country.
Recent media revelations last May indicate that Malaysians waste 15,000 tonnes of food daily, including 3,000 tonnes that are still fit for consumption. Food waste is food that been discarded, lost or uneaten. The causes of food waste are many, and can happen at the stages of production, processing, retailing and consumption of the food.
According to some studies, in low-income countries most of the food waste or loss occurs during the production stage, while in developed countries much food was said to been wasted during the consumption stage.
In light of the recent incident in Kuching, its time for us to find creative ways and take any immediate or possible action to avoid food waste in our country. The Malaysian government had taken a step by initiating the Save Food Malaysia Programme (MySaveFood) last year in a bid to reduce food loss and food waste in the country.
The programme was launched based on the Save Food Campaign, a global initiative introduced by Messe Duseeldorf Group in Berlin, Germany way back in 2011 with the cooperation of the United Nations agency, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
Besides having a campaign and creating awareness through education, other creative ways can also be considered and used to deal with such problems in our country like composting all the food waste to produce soil or fertiliser, using it to fed to animals, or using it to produce fuel for our country’s energy consumption.
Another way to deal with the problem is to reduce its creation whereby consumers can take a proactive role by reducing the food waste by planning their food shopping wisely, avoiding potentially wasteful spontaneous purchases as well as storing their foods properly.
Our legislators can also consider following the French step in dealing with the ongoing problem by creating specific legislation which requires the supermarkets in their country to donate their unsold food items to charities and food banks a few days before the items’ expiry date.
Our legislators can also take a step further by creating comprehensive specific legislation that would put an end to any food waste activities or behaviors by any organisation or individual. Such a proposal is not new as it had repeatedly been proposed by many concerned individuals and consumers associations in our country.
It is also crucial for any organiser to ensure their events will not end up in food being wasted like what happened recently.
DR MUZAFFAR SYAH MALLOW is a senior lecturer, Faculty of Syariah & Law, Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (Usim).