KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians can afford to eat less because they are either overeating or wasting food, throwing away up to 930 tonnes of unconsumed food daily, say experts.
This is equivalent to us throwing away 93,000 10kg bags of rice each day.
The experts warn that people must change or adapt their eating habits in the light of rising prices and a looming food shortage, adding that the country was already experiencing a food crisis.
Universiti Malaya Prof Dr P. Agamuthu said wastage was a growing trend, adding that almost 50% of the 31,000 tonnes of waste produced daily by Malaysians comprised organic kitchen waste such as leftover food.
“Malaysians discard about 930 tonnes of unconsumed food daily. Wastage of unconsumed food alone in Malaysia has doubled over the past three years. This does not even include leftover food,” he said, adding that the unconsumed waste mostly consisted of expired bread, eggs and old or rotten fruit.
Dr Agamuthu, who specialises in solid and hazardous waste management, said Malaysia was close to developed country status in terms of waste generated compared to developing nations like India and Bangladesh, which had almost zero unconsumed food.
He said food wastage was higher in urban areas due to the difference in income levels over rural areas.
Nutrition Society of Malaysia president Dr Tee Ee Siong said many Malaysians tended to overeat, usually taking more food than they should.
He said it was a common sight to see Malaysians pile too much food on their plates, especially during meals at restaurants and buffets.
“It could be because they don't want the hassle of going back for a second helping or they are worried that the food will finish before they can return.
“When we have too much food on our plates, we tend to overeat,” he said, adding that overeating was also the main reason for obesity among Malaysians.
According to Health Ministry statistics, 30% of Malaysians are obese while another 30% are overweight.
Dr Tee said those preparing food in households should be more accurate in their estimations on how much they needed to cook to avoid wastage.
“Parents need to be more sensitive about the wastage of food and teach their children by example,” he said.
Marditech Corporation Sdn Bhd group CEO Anas Ahmad Nasarudin said non-alcoholic foodstuff had registered an average of 4.7% increase in prices from last year.
He said an investigation by the body showed that the price of meat had increased by 7.6%, milk and eggs by 7.9%, vegetables by 11.4%, jam and sweetened products by 10.9%, fruits by 6.8% and fish by 3.8%.
Marditech consultant Ahmad Zamzam Mohamed said the country was already in a food crisis and Malaysians would have to change their eating habits to lessen its impact.
“The Government has been shielding Malaysians from the real impact of the crisis with various subsidies,” he said, adding that they would soon face reality as subsidies were slowly removed.
“We should learn to eat accordingly and not over-indulge,” he said during a press conference on the 7th Malaysia International Agro-Bio Business Conference here yesterday.
The two-day conference, which will gather experts to discuss the challenges of the emerging global food crisis, begins on July 13. - theStarOnline