Nearly half of all fresh potatoes thrown away daily by UK households

Nearly half of the edible fresh potatoes bought by UK householders each day are thrown away - nearly 2.7 million of them per day, and at a "staggering" annual cost of £230m, figures show.

The humble spud is the second most wasted food in the UK, behind bread, according to new official figures released on Wednesday. The new research was offered in support of a government campaign to encourage consumers to reduce their domestic food waste.

Half of us chuck potatoes in the bin because we don’t get round to them using in time, yet once wrinkly skins, green patches and “sprouts” are removed they are still edible, said Love Food Hate Waste, which is run by the government’s waste advisory body Wrap.

The UK churns out 15m tonnes of food waste a year – of which 7m tonnes come from households. The estimated retail value of this is £7.5bn, and Wrap calculates that a typical family wastes £700 of food a year.

Its new Save Our Spuds campaign aims to raise awareness of the vast scale of potato waste and its impact on the environment and our pockets, as well as offering top storage tips, potato rescue remedies and recipe suggestions to use up potatoes before they go bad and are inedible. Correct storage can keep potatoes fresher for longer, it said, giving more time to come up with meal ideas to use them.

Householders are advised to store their potatoes in a dark, cool, well-ventilated place to reduce sprouting – and ideally away from strong-smelling foods such as onions and garlic. They should stay in their original packaging, or be transferred to a cloth or natural fibre bag. If potatoes develop green patches, they are fine to eat when those bits have been cut off – and the same applies to those that have sprouted. If you have a surplus of spuds that you cannot use, you can par-boil and freeze them. 

As part its £10m “waste less, save more” scheme to help households save money by cutting food waste, Sainsbury’s, the UK’s second largest supermarket last year launched new opaque packaging to prevent potatoes from turning green and developing a bitter taste.

Jane Skelton, Sainsbury’s head of packaging, said: “Last year we introduced new opaque packaging which is breathable, but prevents any light from reaching the potatoes, the most common culprit for ‘greening’.”

Rebecca Smithers

This article first appeared on the Guardian

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