Tiger Brands Foundation calls for review of food sell-by date legislation

The Tiger Brands Foundation believes South Africa's food insecurity is being caused by the massive amount of food that is wasted on every year.

The Tiger Brands Foundation has questioned whether South Africa really is food insecure, suggesting that the stringent policy surrounding use-by and sell-by dates on food in the country leads to a significant amount of waste.

South Africa’s food insecurity problem

A Statistics South Africa report published in 2018 on early childhood development in South Africa showed that the growth of as many as 33% of children in Gauteng was stunted by malnutrition.

The report also revealed that South Africa has one of the highest rates of low birth-weight in the world, with around a third of women reporting they often could not afford to buy food during their pregnancy.

Food insecurity is defined by the lack of access to enough good, healthy, and culturally appropriate food, according to the global non-profit organisation Food Forward.

So the shoe seems to fit. However, the Tiger Brands Foundation argues that a huge part of the problem with the lack of affordable, nutritious food is caused by how much is wasted or thrown away in South Africa.

Huge amounts of food wasted

The basis for the theory is a 2017 Food Loss and Waste: Facts and Futures report compiled by World Wide Fund for Nature South Africa (WWF-SA), which claimed a third of all food produced in South Africa was wasted.

South Africa produces around 31 million tonnes of food annually, which means about 10 million tonnes of food is wasted in the country every year.

“All of this food wastage occurs while an estimated 12 million South Africans go to bed hungry every night, with scores more facing gross food insecurity,” foundation operations manager Karl Muller said in the statement.

 Karl Muller

Call for change to legislation

Food is wasted by consumers, supermarket chains, and restaurants alike and Muller called on South Africa to embrace a model similar to what they use in France where surplus food is provided to the needy instead of being thrown away.

“Perhaps this country needs to re-look the current legislation which regulates the use-by and sell-by dates of food.

“In a country where millions face gross food insecurity, we appeal to government to amend these laws to allow food manufacturers, distributors and even the ordinary man on the street to donate food to those in need, in good faith, of course,” he said.

 Karl Muller

South African citizens may not be too receptive to the idea of fiddling with laws that have to do with food safety though.

It has only been around two years since the country faced a massive listeriosis outbreak that actually originated from an Enterprise Foods factory, which is part of the Tiger Brands group.