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The Distance Between Food Waste and Food By-Products Is Connected by a Road Called Recovery

By: , Posted on: November 11, 2015


Definitions of “food waste” and “food loss”

Food supply chains begin from the primary agricultural phase, proceed with manufacturing and retail, and end with household consumption. During this life cycle, food is lost or wasted because of technological, economic and/or societal reasons. The definitions of “food waste” and “food loss” within the supply chain have been a subject of disagreement among the related scientists.

According to the EU Commission Council Directive 2008/98/EC, “waste” is defined as “any substance or object, which the holder discards or intends or is required to discard”. According to the Foresight Project report prepared by The Government Office for Science (GO-Science) (UK, 2011), food waste is defined as “edible material intended for human consumption that is discarded, lost, degraded or consumed by pests as food travels from harvest to consumer”. In July 2014, the European Commission has announced its targets for the circular economy, waste management and provided a “food waste” definition as “food (including inedible parts) lost from the food supply chain, not including food diverted to material uses such as bio-based products, animal feed, or sent for redistribution” (i.e. food donation).

“Food loss” refers to quantitative and qualitative reductions in the amount and value of food. The qualitative loss corresponds to the loss of caloric and nutritive value, loss of quality and loss of edibility. Quantitative loss refers to the decrease in edible food mass throughout the part of the supply chain that specifically leads to edible food for human consumption. Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) 2014 global voluntary definitional framework defined “food loss” as the decrease in quantity or quality of food, caused mainly by food production and supply system functioning or its institutional and legal framework. Thereby, “food loss” occurs throughout the food supply chain. Moreover, FAO distinguishes “food waste” as an important part of “food loss”, which refers to the removal of food from the supply chain, which fits for consumption by choice or has been left to spoil or expire as a result of negligence (predominantly but not exclusively) by the final consumer at household level.


Until the end of the 20th century, the disposal of food loss and waste was not evaluated as a matter of concern. The prevalent policy was mainly to increase food production, without improving the efficiency of the food systems. This fact increased generation of food lost or wasted along supply chains. In the 21th century, escalating demands for processed foods have required identification of concrete opportunities to prevent depletion of natural resources, restrict energy demands, minimize economic costs as well as reduce food loss and waste. According to FAO (2014), a management strategy for resource optimization via waste reduction at source is producing the greatest benefit to the food processing industries and society. Moreover, recent changes in the legislative frameworks, environmental concerns and increasing attention towards sustainability, have stimulated industry to reconsider the concept of “recovery” as an opportunity.

This prospect has changed the way we are considering food loss and food waste. Today, all the food-related substrates, which are lost within the food supply chain (food loss), should be primary considered as by-products. The latter could be directly valorised for nutritional purposes or used as raw materials for the recovery of valuable ingredients and compounds. In both cases, food waste includes all the remaining substrates from these processes that are finally not consumed and discharged. This consideration generates two simplified concepts:

Food Loss─ Reutilized By-products = Food Waste  (1)

Food Waste = Wasted By-products  (2)

The term “Food Waste Recovery”

The potential of food waste to create new opportunities and markets has been under-estimated until the very recent years. Indeed, the term “Food Waste Recovery” was not in use, whereas the term recovery was used to underline the prospect of reutilizing or valorising food waste somehow.

The term “Food Waste Recovery” was firstly introduced and established by the Special Interest Group 5 of ISEKI Food Association 3 years ago. It was used as an abbreviation for the expression “extraction of valuable compounds from wasted by-products”. The main difference between the widely used term “Food Waste Valorisation” and “Food Waste Recovery” is that the second expresses the re-utilization of food loss in a quantitative and qualitative manner within food chain. Indeed, Food Waste Recovery targets to upgrade compounds and ingredients lost within food waste streams by creating high added-value products (e.g. functional foods).

About the Book

Food Waste Recovery: Processing Technologies and Industrial Techniques acts as a guide to recover valuable components of food by-products and recycle them inside the food chain, in an economic and sustainable way. The book investigates all the relevant recovery issues and compares different techniques to help you advance your research and develop new applications. Strong coverage of the different technologies is included, while keeping a balance between the characteristics of current conventional and emerging technologies. This is an essential reference for research outcomes.

Key features of the book include:

food waste recovery• Presents a holistic methodology (the so-called “5-Stages Universal Recovery Process”) and a general approach (the so-called “Universal Recovery Strategy”) to ensure optimized management of the available technologies and recapture of different high added-value compounds from any waste source
• Includes characteristics, safety and cost issues of conventional and emerging technologies, the benefits of their application in industry, and commercialized applications of real market products
• Demonstrates all aspects of the recovery process such as preservation of the substrate, yield optimization, preservation of functionality of the target compounds during processing, and more

Visit the Elsevier Store to purchase your copy today. Use discount code “STC215″ at checkout and save up to 30%!

About the Editor

charis galanakisCharis M. Galanakis is a dynamic and interdisciplinary scientist with a fast-expanding work that balances between food and environment, industry and academia. His research targets mainly the separation and recovery of functional macro- and micro-molecules from different food by-products, as well as their implementation as additives in food and other products. He is the research & innovation director of Galanakis Laboratories (Chania, Greece), the co-founder of Phenoliv AB (Lund, Sweden) and the coordinator of Special Interest Group 5 of ISEKI Food Association (Vienna, Austria), which is the biggest network worldwide in the field of Food Waste Recovery. He serves as an editorial board member and subject editor of Food and Bioproducts Processing and Food Research International.

Follow Dr. Galanakis via Twitter – @CharisGalanakis, LinkedIn or ResearchGate.
Meet Dr. Galanakis at the Food Waste Recovery Workshop, join the Food Waste Recovery & Innovation 2020 group on LinkedIn or the Food Waste Recovery Page on Facebook.

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Food Science & Nutrition

The field of food science is highly interdisciplinary, spanning areas of chemistry, engineering, biology, and many more. Researchers in these areas achieve fundamental advances in our understanding of agriculture, nutrition, and food-borne illness, and develop new technologies, like food processing methods and packaging material. Against a backdrop of global issues of food supply and regulation, this important work is supported by Elsevier’s catalog of books, eBooks, and journals in food science, considered essential resources for students, instructors, and health professionals worldwide. Learn more about our Food Science and Nutrition books here.