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Ethics of food waste
chapterposted on 2018-04-20, 00:00 authored by M Mirosa, David PearsonDavid Pearson, R Pearson
Recent reports indicate that 30 to 50 percent of all food produced for human consumption is wasted and not eaten by humans (FAO 2011; IME 2013). Thus individuals and businesses continue to make decisions that result in this massive amount of food waste (Pearson et al. 2013). Although food losses occur throughout the supply chain, in developing countries most of this is prior to purchase by consumers – mainly due to limited investment in efficient storage, transport, and processing infrastructure, whilst in industrialized countries most is wasted by consumers – mainly due to food being relatively abundant and economically cheap (FAO 2011). Thus the magnitude, pervasiveness, and persistence of food waste suggest that it remains a complicated issue. In order to investigate the ethical implications of the food waste issue, this chapter first considers the wider role of ethics in society (section 2) before moving on to discuss general ethical issues in relation to food (section 3). The case is made in these sections that an ethical food system would strive to supply all individuals with regular supply of a variety of healthy foods. Further, the production, distribution, and retailing would be carried out in an environmentally sustainable manner in which the welfare of animals is also upheld. In a more specific exploration of the ethics of food waste (section 4), it is suggested that food waste reduction is linked to reducing hunger, reducing obesity, and reducing environmental degradation. The links in each of these three areas are reviewed in turn. Responses to food waste are highlighted (section 5) prior to concluding comments (section 6).