Taking a Bite Out of Food Waste
Brian Roe, a professor of agricultural economics in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) has been studying food waste for more than two years.
“A lot of people say, ‘Oh, they waste so much food at restaurants and supermarkets. I’ve seen the dumpsters at the back of the stores. It’s terrible.’ In truth, it’s consumers in households where most of the food waste occurs.”Brian Roe
He helped form and currently leads the Ohio State Food Waste Collaborative, a collection of researchers, practitioners and students working together to promote the reduction and redirection of food waste.
Roe and colleagues from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University are also developing a smartphone app to help them conduct research about how consumers buy, eat and waste food in their everyday lives.
Roe’s research on food waste examines consumer behavior and attitudes about discarding food. He has discovered:
- A majority of Americans think food waste is a problem, but they find it difficult to reduce their own waste. Contributing to the problem is their belief that throwing out food that is past its label date will reduce the risk of foodborne illness.
- Sell-by and use-by dates may encourage people to discard perfectly safe food
- Consumers waste far less food when they’re informed of the harm their leftovers can inflict on the environment. However, if they are also told the food is going to be composted instead of dumped in a landfill, their waste levels go back up to near uninformed levels