1 Jan

Stop Food Waste! Reduce Refrigerator Energy Use and increase Food safety

Posted by Norman F

made in China refrigerator, grand Hyatt Beijing

With the Pandemic, it because clear that food scarcity was a major problem.  People lost their jobs and just needed food to eat.  Food banks were pushed to their limits, seniors had meals delivered.

What eco friendly elements can help reduce food waste and decrease food scarcity.

Food Waste

  • American waste as much as 40% of their food – 220 pounds per person!
  • $218 billion was lost to food waste annually
  • 398,000 tons could be diverted from the landfill
  • Most food waste happens in grocery stores, restaurants and food service business.

According to a report by ReFED, 35% of the food or 80.6 million tons went uneaten or unsold in the US in 2019, $418 billion value.  This is not only a waste, but it contributes to greenhouse game emissions.

  • Wasted food uses 4% of US greenhouse gases
  • Produce thrown out uses 6.5X more emissions than just leaving it in the fields  (Refrigeration, packaging, transport)
  • Preventing food was is 8X better than letting it rot and compost

Tips to reduce food waste

  • Order smaller portions. Don’t supersize it and toss 1/2 out
  • Plan meal and only buy what is needed
  • Eat leftovers, do not toss them – Use them for lunch
  • Meal kits can reduce emissions by 33% even with packaging waste
  • Avoid buffets

Food To Go App

Food To go helps restaurants and grocery stores sell off leftover items that would normally be tossed.  Get a bag full of stuff for cheap!

Available for iOS and Android. In select areas.

Sell by and Expiration Dates on Food

Manufacturers give stores and consumers a guideline on when an item is fresh with these dates.  These Expiration Dates or Best by Dates are not a safety gauge. Only infant formula expiration dates are a safety mark. In September 2013, a study found that this was a much bigger problem than originally thought. Grocery stores and food companies love these dates, because they make consumers purchase more goods. Consumers regularly throw away good food.

  • Almost 90% of American’s throw food out prematurely due to these dates
  • An average family throws away several hundred dollars worth of good food every year or roughly 20 pounds per person
  • Date stamps really indicate peak quality of food, not safety

Sell by – This is mainly for use by the grocery store on how long to display the product

Use by, best before – This date is when the best flavor or quality peaks out. This is not a safety date or a purchase by date.

The main problem issue with food dates is Listeria. It is especially bad for pregnant women and immune-compromised folks.  Products that are at greater risk include:

  • Deli meat
  • Unpasteurized cheese
  • Sausages not fully cooked or reheated

Cooking kills Listeria.

Looking at a bunch of articles, they recommend the sniff test, if something starts to smell, compost it.  There are a ton of hungry folks that deserve better.

California AB2725 Food Labeling Guidelines

California Assemblyman David Chiu in March 2016 proposed that we require food makers to use one of two labels in California:

  • Best if used by – indicates freshness
  • Expires on – used only on highly perishable food

Reducing your Refrigerator’s Energy Use

Some easy energy savers. Per the FDA – Set your refrigerator’s thermostat to 40°F degrees , this might be a little high though. Our local Utility company PG&E suggests from 35 to 38°F. Set the freezer to 0 to 5 degrees.  Use an inexpensive refrigerator thermometer to measure the actual temperature.  I have found 38 °F works better for us.

  • Do not overfill your frig as cool air needs to circulate freely to keep everything cool.  Glass keeps food colder longer, so try to use more glass.
  • Wipe up spills immediately to prevent bacteria from growing
  • Keep refrigerated items in covered containers or sealed storage bags
  • Check expiration dates on food, when in doubt, throw it out
  • Do not forget about cleaning the coils on your fridge every 6 months. Do this religiously if you have pets.
  • Never allow raw meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, or produce that requires refrigeration to sit at room temperature for more than two hours. The limit is one hour if the air temperature is above 90°F. Cars can become really hot.
  • Leftovers need to be refrigerated or frozen within two hours. Putting hot food in the refrigerator does not harm the appliance. Make sure you zap left overs until the internal temperature is at least 165°F.
  • Keep food in the refrigerator while it’s been marinated, otherwise act. Could grow at room temperature
  • Remove items placed on top of your refrigerator.  They may be causing it to work harder than normal.
  • Move your refrigerator if it is located near a window, oven, or any place there is heat.
  • Unplug and recycle your second refrigerator and/or freezer.  It costs a lot money to run and most utility companies will pay you money and remove it for free.
  • More tips on refrigerator safety from the FDA
  • Ask Karen is a USDA site that answers food safety questions
  • USDA has a meat and poultry hotline, (888) 674-6854

If your refrigerator was made before 1993, a new Energy Star Qualified model will use half the energy.  Recycle your old Fridge and appliances and take advantage of any Energy rebates available to save additional money.

Posted on January 1st, 2021
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One Response to “Stop Food Waste! Reduce Refrigerator Energy Use and increase Food safety”

  1. Ways to Save Energy, Money on your Utility Bill | Easy Eco Blog Says:

    […] Reduce Refrigerator Energy Use by setting it correctly. […]

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