Huddersfield businessman Andy Needham is urging families to take action to reduce the amount of food they waste.

Andy, whose business Approved Food is one of the strategic partners of the inaugural Food Waste Action Week, that runs until Sunday, said everyone had a part to play in reducing food waste, even if it was something as simple as reading labels properly or freezing leftovers.

Approved Food is a sustainable online supermarket that has campaigned for years for a better understanding of what best before dates really mean. In the 12 years since the company was established Andy, from Skelmanthorpe, estimates his team has prevented some 25,000 tonnes of perfectly good food from going to waste.

He said it was a natural progression for Approved Food to be involved with the action week, that is organised by the national sustainability body WRAP and fronted by celebrity cook Nadiya Hussain.

“People simply don’t realise the role that food waste plays in climate change,” said Andy. “According to DEFRA, if food waste was a country, it would be the third largest producer of greenhouse gases, behind China and the USA. But many of us just aren’t aware of that.

“Around 1.5 million tonnes of food are wasted by the UK manufacturing sector every year. This includes goods that are thrown away as a result of packaging changes or over-runs, or because food is deemed too close to its best before date. We rescue this ‘problem stock’ and make it available online at a knock-down price.

“But what manufacturers waste pales into insignificance compared with food wasted in our own homes. Every year, UK households throw away 4.5 million tonnes of food that could have been eaten – 70% of all food wasted here. That’s the same weight as 355,000 double decker buses.

“It’s crucial that people use their common sense before they reach for the bin. The label may say a product has passed its best before date but that’s only a guarantee of quality, not safety. Tinned, dried and frozen goods can be perfectly fine to eat weeks, months or even years after that date has passed.”

Think before you reach for the bin…

Andy’s tips on reducing food waste include:

  1. Use your common sense. If something is past its best before date but still looks fine and smells fine, go ahead and eat it.
  2. Watch your portion sizes.
  3. If you do make too much, love your leftovers. Fry up leftover vegetables the next day or freeze what you don’t eat.
  4. Shop smarter and don’t fall for the BOGOF ploy. Stick to your shopping list as buying too much fresh produce can lead to it ending up in the bin.
  5. Consider tinned or frozen as an alternative to fresh – it lasts much longer and is there, in your cupboard or freezer, when you need it.
  6. Make soup or stock from your vegetable peelings.
  7. Toast old bread in the oven or whizz it up into breadcrumbs that can be frozen.
  8. Use up leftover salad by blending it with pine nuts, olive oil, garlic and herbs to make a fresh pesto.
  9. Store your food properly. Oranges and apples last longer in the fridge.
  10. Get creative with food preservation. Try pickling onions, eggs or cucumbers and make apple sauce from leftover fruit.

As a strategic partner of Food Waste Action Week, Approved Food is offering one lucky winner 12 months’ supply of rescued food and drink worth £720 (and significantly more at original RRP). Other prizes up for grabs include a fridge freezer, signed cookbooks and a year’s supply of milk. Go to the Approved Food website for details of how to enter: or the WRAP website.