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Spaniards urged to throw out less food as part of European war on waste

Country is the sixth-worst culprit in EU for binning foodstuffs

It’s back to grandma’s tricks for making the most out of available food: use ripe bananas to make a banana bread, dry bread for a sautéed meat and breadcrumbs dish, and tortilla leftovers as zucchini filling. The Agriculture, Food and Environment Ministry has just held Waste Reduction Week, an initiative aimed at minimizing the amount of food that gets thrown out.

The government is trying to meet a European Union mandate to reduce food waste by up to 50 percent before 2020. Spain ranks sixth on the list of most wasteful European nations with 7.7 million tons a year, according to 2010 data. Not surprisingly in absolute terms, the worst performer is Germany with 10.3 million tons, followed by the Netherlands (9.4 million), France (9 million), Poland (8.9 million) and Italy (8.8 million).

The material which was made available to the public included recipes and advice for making the most of kitchen supplies, brochures with best practices, and even bags to take leftovers home from the restaurant. The ministry is recommending that diners order half a menu if they are not going to eat a whole one, taking food to work in a reusable container, and the classic of all classic tricks, making sure one has eaten heartily before going grocery shopping, to prevent filling the cart with more items than necessary.

The ministry is also working with all the links in the food chain to find out how food items are produced and see where waste reduction may be effected. The result of this analysis is expected by late this year, said Minister Miguel Arias Cañete.

The European Parliament has linked food waste with bad shopping, consumption and management habits. According to Commission data, an average of 179 kilograms of food per inhabitant is wasted in Europe.

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