UK 'bins millions of Christmas dinners' each year

Emma Woollacott
christmas decorated table with...
christmas decorated table with...

Between us, British households will throw away an astonishing 4.2 million Christmas dinners this year, with a third of people helping themselves to more food than they can actually manage.

According to a poll for the ClearAPlate campaign, which aims to reduce food poverty, nearly 10% of every Christmas dinner goes in the bin. That's the equivalent of 263,000 turkeys, 740,000 Christmas puddings and 17.2 million Brussels sprouts.

The survey revealed that the average host spends £112 on Christmas dinner food for six guests. But, say the campaign organisers, it would take the average family nearly four days to eat everything bought just for Christmas Day.

"We were shocked to hear just how much food goes to waste at Christmas. The festive season is naturally a time when we indulge with our family and friends but throwing away 4.2 million perfectly good Christmas dinners is a staggering waste," Jon Goldstone, foods director of campaign member Unilever tells the Daily Mail.

"Having seen these figures, this year I know I will be putting a little more thought into my Christmas shopping and through our #ClearAPlate campaign we're encouraging others to do the same."

Earlier this year, a report by the House of Lords European Union Committee found that 15 million tonnes of food is wasted in the UK each year.

Across industrialised national as a whole, the amount of food throwen away by consumers is nearly as much as is produced by the whole of sub-Saharan Africa.

"We are urging the supermarkets to look again at offers such as 'buy one get one free', which can encourage excess consumption which leads to food waste," commented committee chairwoman Baroness Scott of Needham Market.

To cut down on your own food waste this Christmas, says Emma Marsh of Love Food Hate Waste, the first step is to make a comprehensive shopping list, and then stick to it. Make the most of your freezer and focus on use-by dates, rather than sell-by or best-before.

"Many items, such as hard cheese and mashed potatoes, can be frozen and reused at a later date which saves on time and stops you throwing food you've spent good money on in the bin," says Marsh. "Storing your food to keep it at its best can prevent things from spoiling."

Plan portion sizes carefully, she says, and let people help themselves: "let family and guests choose for themselves whether they really want 10 sprouts or solid bread sauce!" she says.

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