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5 Ways USDA Science Reduces Food Waste

Posted by Justice Wright, Public Affairs Specialist, Research, Education, and Economics Mission Area in Research and Science
Apr 28, 2021
A woman with a variety of food products

The Economic Research Service estimates that in 2010, America wasted approximately 133 billion pounds of food. That’s the equivalent of every American discarding three average-sized apples every day. Not the “apple a day” advice we’re used to hearing. Today, on Stop Food Waste Day, we’re sharing five examples of how USDA is using scientific ingenuity to curb food loss and waste.

  1. Preserving Produce

Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists developed a clamshell container for fresh-fruit storage that maintains superior freshness, including preventing the softening and shriveling of strawberries, blueberries, and cherry tomatoes.

  1. Applying Automation

Automated sorting separates low-quality fruit from fresh-market, higher-quality fruit. ARS researchers designed and constructed an in-orchard apple sorting system that is compact, reliable, and capable of sorting 11 or more apples per second.

  1. Upcycling “Unwanted” Fruit

Many manufacturers and consumers overlook produce that is undersized or blemished. Using food scraps, ARS scientists created the world’s first 100% fruit bar by forming dried fruit into a bar.

  1. Strengthening Safe Foods

Reducing pathogen spread helps minimize food loss and waste. In fiscal year 2020, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) invested a total of $40 million in food safety research such as developing new methods to ensure food processing systems can effectively control salmonella.

  1. Championing Consumers

NIFA-invested researchers are examining how consumer behavior affects food waste. Community-based nutrition education programs, like the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program, help individuals, families, and communities determine how to use their resources to purchase and prepare healthy food while minimizing waste.

Category/Topic: Research and Science

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