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Food waste increasing as more Canadians eat at home: survey

Last Updated Sep 1, 2020 at 10:02 am MDT

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A survey finds Canadians are wasting more food as we continue to spend more time at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic

Increase in food waste will total about $2,000 a year per average household, researcher says

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – It appears we’re wasting more food as we continue to spend more time at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The average household wasted about two kilograms of food every week pre-COVID. However, as we eat fewer meals at restaurants these days, that’s now increased.

“The average household wastes about $1,766 worth of food every year. And because of COVID, we actually believe that will go up by about $238 a year,” Sylvain Charlebois with the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University explains. The school’s new study finds that equates to about a 13 per cent increase in food waste.

Nationally, the increase in food waste will add up to almost $3 billion per year, Charlebois explains.

“It’s a lot of food, so if you’re not careful at home, you end up paying a lot more for your food than you should have,” he tells NEWS 1130.

Read the survey results: 

[pdf-embedder url=”https://www.citynews1130.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/sites/9/2020/09/01/COVID-Organic-Food-Waste-September-1.pdf” title=”COVID Organic Food Waste (September 1)”]

Charlebois notes that by volume, households are likely wasting more. However, proportionally as an economy, we believe we are wasting less.

“Just because, first of all, restaurants, which would generate a lot of waste, aren’t operating right now. Buffets, self-serving facilities — they tend to waste a lot of food. They don’t exist now, they’re not in operation, so that’s helping. The other issue, of course, is that we are cooking more at home. We are buying more food at home, so we are cooking more, preparing more food at home, so it’s logical to generate more waste at home.”

About one-third of Canadians say they are eating leftovers more often during the pandemic.

COVID-19 and food

The amount of food wasted isn’t the only surprising thing to come out of Dalhousie’s survey.

According Charlebois, a number of Canadians have thrown away food because they believed it was contaminated with COVID-19.

“I just couldn’t believe it,” he admits. “It was a bit of a shocker for us, because there’s no science behind that. You shouldn’t be throwing food believing that it’s contaminated by COVID. There actually hasn’t been one case yet, other than questionable reports that have come out of China, that’s about it.”

Of respondents to the survey, 10 per cent have said they’ve thrown food away for this reason.

In B.C, about 13 per cent of people have admitted to throwing food away because they believed it was contaminated. That number rose to 14 per cent in Quebec.

“That’s a very high percentage, so I certainly would encourage people to read up on food safety related to COVID-19. The risks are very, very minimal, if not inexistent.”