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The Ethical Aspect of Food Waste And How Different Aspectsof It Can Impact Our Life

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The focus of this paper is looking at the ethical aspect of food waste and how different aspects can impact it as a whole. The research question is “How can we implement policies in restaurants and other businesses to effectively reduce food waste in America?” Food waste incorporates any food components removed from the food supply chain for recovery or disposal, of which a considerable chunk is from households. The ethical dilemma follows the fact that Americans and many other countries included actually waste so much food when there are millions of hungry individuals in America alone suffering from malnutrition and the problem of not having enough food.

The proposed solution as seen through the ethical lens follows the fact that though there is so much food waste being produced in America so there needs to be a way to take this food waste and turn it into something that can be used to actually benefit the population as a whole. Americans waste 96 billion pounds of food per year (Haley 1). The implications of this are negative: it is ethically problematic to waste food at all, but even more so in a country in which many people experience hunger.(Ferrer 1) Author Daniele Fattibene and Margherita Bianchi from the Istituto Affari Internazionali, an Italy based food organization, write that there is a paradox that has been created with food waste.

The society has sadly gotten used to the highly unfair distribution of food worldwide. While a part of the population can afford to buy and waste many pounds of food, almost 40 million Americans do not have any access to any food at all. (Bianchi, Fattibene 2). The IAI’s main objective is to promote the problems of international politics through studies and research. They then propose a solution of a food supply chain by providing the food waste produced by corporate businesses and households to those who are less fortunate. The authors support their claim by establishing multiple surveys taken through the Food and Agricultural Organization. Their studies support their claims about the number of people in the United States who do not have enough food. They provide multiple examples of not only the ethical concerns regarding food waste but also the impact as seen through various other perspectives. In 2014, a survey conducted by the Food Waste Reduction Alliance found that 56 percent of large restaurants do not donate surplus food because they fear liability (Goldberg). Another survey, conducted by America’s Second Harvest, found that 80 percent of the food companies it surveyed do not donate food because they fear liability as well (Ahmann). In fact, this a concern for almost all potential food donors who do not donate food that is still edible and wholesome. Of course, their concern is not completely unjustified.

Currently, the risk of being held accountable for damages is higher than it has ever been. Moreover, the risk and cost of being held accountable for foodborne illness are even higher. The Center for Disease Control claims that there are 48 million foodborne illness cases in the United States every year. In all, 128,000 of these 48 million people are hospitalized and 3,000 of them die (CDC). If found to be the source of these illnesses, food companies could be held liable for millions of dollars in damages, just as Taco Bell was held liable for $98 million after an E. coli outbreak in 1992. However, food donors’ concerns over liability are misguided. What these potential food donors do not realize is that there is a federal act which protects them from liability, the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act (Haley 3). James Haley is from the University of Arkansas where he served as the Executive Editor of the Journal of Food Law & Policy. Currently, he is the Research Fellow for the Food Recovery Project.

This author has experience with the laws regarding the donation of food and through his detailed explanation of the law to provide evidence that with this law in place, there is no liability that could be held against food companies across America. It is important to note that “food insufficiency” and “food insecurity”, although related, are different. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines food insufficiency “as an inadequate amount of food intake due to a lack of resources” (Troy et. al 8). The scope of food insecurity is wider: it “includes food insufficiency and additionally psychological and other qualitative aspects of the food supply and intake” (Troy et. al 8). The USDA monitors the food security through a variety of surveys to test how effective federal nutrition assistance programs, private food assistance programs, and other initiatives are reducing the food insecurity in American households. To measure this, the USDA classifies homes under different levels of food security. Although food insecurity negatively affects all its victims, it is especially harsh on children.

Hunger and malnutrition result in days missed at school, inattentiveness in class, stunted physical and mental growth, and frequent illness. This has the potential to not only affect their immediate health and well-being, but also their future health and well-being (Haley 1). The author provides the audience with real-life scenarios that are faced by the population of America with a low food security rate. Children need proper nutrition to ensure their growth and development. Malnutrition can lead to many long-term physical and mental side effects. However, there may be a bias involved in his claims as he is an attorney who strictly deals with the effects of food donation and food waste rather than the actual scientific impact of food waste. This brought me to suggest my plan for solving America’s food waste problem.

The first part of my plan focuses on private sector solutions. Non-edible food waste can be converted into a spectrum of bio-commodity chemicals and bio-energy by employing bioprocesses. Lipids “from food waste can be converted to biodiesel. Additionally, complex carbohydrates such as cellulose and starch in food wastes can be hydrolyzed into glucose and fructose”, which can be fermented to bioethanol or technical ethanol” (Grycová 1203). Furthermore, the conversion of non-edible food waste is quite feasible, because “new technologies that use anaerobic digestion are rapidly emerging to convert food and organic wastes to energy and to mitigate greenhouse emissions” (Franchetti 42).

Donation of leftover portions to the poor can also be a part of this plan. This way, the food is being used for better purposes rather than having to pile up and in turn create negative repercussions. The second part of the recommendation is to focus on government solutions. The government must increase awareness of food waste, food insecurity, environmental problems related to food production, and food donation liability. This can be done through school curriculum, community programs, and news media coverage. Once the government has increased awareness, it must increase incentives for food donation and recovery. With the right precautions, we can ultimately elimate the ethical concerns that arise because of food waste.

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