by AFIQ AZIZ / pic by BERNAMA
Malaysians waste up to 20,000 tonnes of food daily during the fasting month of Ramadhan, an increase of 5,000 tonnes compared to other months, domestic trade and consumer affairs (KPDNHEP) minister said.
Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail (picture) said the excessive food should be channelled to the government’s food bank initiative.
“In the normal season, Solid Waste Management and Public Cleansing Corp Sdn Bhd estimated about 15,000 tonnes of food waste were produced.
“However, during Ramadhan, when Muslims are supposed to avoid wastages, the number seems to increase in a nerve-wrecking manner,” he told the press after launching the first Malaysia Food Bank Seminar in Putrajaya yesterday.
“The ministry, under the Food Bank Programme, is ready to provide database should they want to be part of the initiative,” he added.
Saifuddin Nasution said as the government does not regulate the industrial food production, restaurants, hotels and eatery outlets that produce a better quality of food are advised to take part in the welfare programmes.
“I would like to encourage these people to take part in the welfare programme. They can have their own initiative. Especially for foods that are cooked in the hotel and prepared by the professional chefs.
“So, the safety and cleanliness have been guaranteed and the issue of halal is also being covered,” he said.
Introduced in August last year, the food bank programme comprising the collection and distribution of surplus food was a jointly organised project by some 430 supermarkets and hypermarkets nationwide including Giant, Tesco and Mydin among others and nongovernmental organisations such as Kechara Soup Kitchen.
It was aimed mainly to reduce the cost of living for consumers, especially those in the lower-income group (B40) and curb alarming food wastages.
It was reported that out of the 15,000 tonnes daily food waste, about 3,000 tonnes of it are still safe to consume.
Saifuddin Nasution said so far, about 120,000 recipients benefitted from the programme, which was also extended to the various public universities since March.
Known as, Food Bank Siswa, he said about 3,000 beneficiaries from the B40 bracket students have been involved in the project.
The ministry is also expected to table a bill to regulate the food bank initiative by end of this year — tentatively known as Good Samaritan Law, to protect both
recipients and contributors. Citing Japan and the UK as an example, Saifuddin Nasution said Putrajaya is expected to foster closer ties with all stakeholders involved from suppliers to recipients.
“The government would like to learn from the past experiences of overseas agencies in various aspects from guaranteeing food supply, management operations, establishing a recipient database to implementing relevant laws about the matter,” he said.
The first food bank in the world was established in 1967 in the US, which thousands of food bank have been set up in the world since then.
According to estimates by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, approximately one-third of food produced for human consumption globally is either lost or wasted, amounting to about 1.3 billion tonnes per year.