I think a lot of us know what happens to a lot of foods that may be billed as ‘expired’, but in fact are in edible condition. To regulate these massive operations and avoid giving responsibility to workers, products are given sell-by dates that more often than not do not reflect their true edible lifespan. This is the case with all foods, and with fresh fruit and vegetables, the most important, it is more the case than with other types of food product. As they reach their dates of destiny, fruit and vegetables are bagged and thrown into bins, but very often they are approaching, at or near their peak level of ripeness for consumption. This is not to deny the existence of charities which persuade companies to allow products no longer eligible for sale to be collected and distributed to people in need. I cannot guess what proportion of this type of stock-loss is redistributed by this process. But whether it is high or low, the shame remains- kilogram upon kilogram is smuggled into bin after bin, this shop to the next, day in day out, in town and city across this beautifully rich country.
So who are the worst offenders when it comes to food wasting? Again I cannot publish facts and figures, but my experiential evidence compels me to name and shame Marks & Spencer, who in my experience go to far greater lengths than other stores to prevent food they have bought and failed to sell, from being eaten.
From observing food wastage from a range of sources, M&S rank high among supermarkets. Many large operations employ the practice of reducing short-dated foods in price to avoid them becoming illegible for sale, and minimise impact on profits. Marks and Spencer do not employ this practice. This might be to promote an image of a company that sells only the best produce. For customers it could also create the illusion that they are a strong operation because you do not see reduced products on the shelves as you do elsewhere. The operation is not tight however. All that happens is, foods at the end of their shelf-life are neatly unstacked and placed onto the trolley from whence they came, before being wheeled back to the warehouse, scanned and finally bagged and put into the bin with other rubbish, to be collected by the council and sent to landfill or for incineration.
As stated, it has been observed that Marks and Spencer chuck lots of stuff away. Lots of fancy food, and decent fruit and veg, as well as other oddities and delicacies: in such bins resides the dirty conscience of the consumer, buried by the high street pushers of Capitalism. What also happens, is on the fringes of Capitalism people try to take fresh, edible, nutritious foods from bins. If witnessed, this can unnerve employees of the responsible supermarkets. But Marks and Spencer go to extra-special lengths to stop people’s attempts to prevent foods from being wasted. Here in Nottingham the shop has in the long term employed the practice of keeping its business waste refuse skip-bins inside its premises, in its warehouse, where fresh foods are delivered and stored. This is in breach of food hygiene and health and safety regulation.
This report can also reveal, that the Nottingham M&S branch are also now adopting a new range of measures to deter homeless, hungry and other people from sourcing food from where it has been committed to becoming pollution. Food Spoiling. Before being put in the bin, the packaging of all products is opened to allow cross-contamination from other waste. In addition, the discarded food is covered with blue dye. These two measure combined make a strong deterrent, because not only does the practice make food vulnerable to contamination from other waste. It further contaminates food with unpalatable dye and creates a spoil hazard for people’s skin and clothes.
These are dirty tricks, stooping lower for the love of the dollar, than any man, woman or animal would by foraging for their lives.
Shame on Marks & Spencer.