Programme director at the Johns Hopkins University Center for a Livable Future, Dr Roni Neff, led the study with Marie L. Spiker, a doctoral candidate, examining the nutrients Americans throw away.
The study, published in the Journal of Nutrition and Dietetics, bases its data on 2012 US Department of Agriculture statistics. The numbers show 31% to 40% of food is thrown away by Americans after it’s harvested.
According to USA Today, Dr Neff said: “Wasted food is a very serious issue at this point. We’re throwing away so much money and so many resources and so much potential nutrients that can make our lives better.”
“Wasted food is a very serious issue at this point. We’re throwing away so much money and so many resources and so much potential nutrients that can make our lives better.”
Dr Neff says many Americans are discarding edible food believing its unsafe or no longer fresh. This could be because of confusion around food labels.
Seafood, fruits and vegetables were among the most food wasted, the study found. Dr Neff said the foods that are particularly wasted are fresh foods that tend to be more perishable.
“One of the biggest things is just really being aware of it,” said Dr Neff, offering advice on how to avoid food waste, such as sticking to a shopping list and eating leftovers.
This wasted food is filled with important nutrients many Americans lack in their diets, such as dietary fibre, Vitamin D and calcium, the study found.
42m Americans live in homes without sufficient access to food, according to hunger relief organisation Feeding America.
“Although only a portion of discarded food can realistically be made available for human consumption, efforts to redistribute surplus foods where appropriate and prevent food waste in the first place could increase the availability of nutrients for Americans, while saving money and natural resources,” Dr Neff said.
She also said retailers should sell “imperfect” food that are often discarded for cosmetic reasons.
The US Government has established a national goal to cut food waste by 50% by 2030.