Food Waste and Nutrition Quality in the Context of Public Health: A Scoping Review
2. Materials and Methods
2.2. Eligibility Criteria
2.3. Information Sources and Literature Search
2.4. Selection of Sources of Evidence
2.5. Data Charting Processes and Data Items
2.6. Critical Appraisal of Individual Sources of Evidence
2.7. Synthesis of Results
3.1. Characteristics of Sources of Evidence
3.2. Synthesis of Results by Concept
3.2.1. Concept 1: Food Waste, Diet Quality, Nutrient Losses, and Environmental Health
3.2.2. Concept 2: Current Interventions Aimed at Preventing/Reducing Food Waste, While Improving Diet Quality and/or Nutrition
3.2.3. Concept 3: Food Banks/Pantries and Diet/Nutritional Quality
3.2.4. Concept 4: Food Waste and Plastic Waste in Nutrition or Diet Guidelines and Policies
4.1. Implications for Practice
4.2. Strengths and Limitations
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
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|Title, Author, Year||Study Type||Results|
|Food waste||Nutrient |
|Diet Quality||Environmental Impacts of Food Waste|
|Assessment of nutritional loss with food waste and factors governing this waste at household level in Pakistan .|
Khalid et al. (2019)
|Exploratory study |
|Cooked food, fruit, and vegetables were the most wasted.||Household food waste led to a loss of 54.42 kcal, 2.61 g of protein, 2.21 g of lipids, 10.58 g of carbohydrate, 0.75 g of fiber, 275.2 mcg of beta-carotene, 22.49 mg of calcium, 96.83 RE of vitamin A, and 37.11 mg of phosphorus per capita per day.||N/A||N/A|
|Association between diet quality and food waste in Canadian families: a cross-sectional study .|
Carroll et al. (2020)
|Cross-sectional study||Households produced an average of 107 g of avoidable and 52 g of unavoidable food waste per capita per day.|
Fruit and vegetables were the most wasted foods.
|N/A||Overall, diet quality was not associated with total daily per capita food waste. |
Parent diet quality was positively associated with daily avoidable and unavoidable fruit and vegetable waste.
Diet quality was assessed using the HEI-2015, with higher scores being indicative of higher diet quality.
|Healthy diets can create environmental trade-offs, depending on how diet quality is measured .|
Conrad et al. (2020)
|Cross-sectional study||Daily per capita total food demand was 1675 g; 7% (111 g) was lost at retail level, 16% (245 g) was inedible, and 31% (410 g) was wasted at consumer level.||N/A||Higher diet quality was associated with greater retail losses, inedible portions, and consumer waste.||One-quarter of agricultural inputs used to produce total food demand were attributed to food that was never consumed.|
Higher diet quality was associated with lower use of agricultural land.
Using the HEI-2015, higher diet quality was associated with greater use of irrigation water and pesticides. This association was not found using the AHEI-2010.
|Nutrition in the bin: a nutritional and environmental assessment of food wasted in the UK . |
Cooper et al. (2018)
|Cross-sectional||The total weight of UK household waste was 110 kg per capita per year, of which 77% is thought to be avoidable. Approximately 42 daily diets are disposed of per person each year.|
Fresh vegetables and salad (25%), drink (13%), bakery (11%), dairy/eggs (8%), complete meals (8%), other foods (8%), meat/fish (7%), and fresh fruit (6%) were the most wasted foods.
|The most wasted nutrients were vitamin B12, vitamin C, and thiamine.||N/A||The greenhouse gas emissions associated with wasted edible household food are 0.9 kg CO2 equivalents per capita per day or 320 kg CO2 equivalents per capita per year. Food waste also contributes to freshwater consumption scarcity, nonrenewable resource depletion, land use, and negative environmental impacts.|
|Nutritional and environmental losses embedded in global food waste .|
Chen et al. (2020)
|Cross-sectional study||Globally, an average of 65 kg of food waste is generated per capita per year (178 g per capita per day), which accounts for 18 daily healthy diets.|
The most wasted foods were vegetables (25%), cereals (24%), and fruit (12%). These food groups also contributed to the largest amount of wasted nutrients.
|On average, 273 kcal of energy is wasted per capita per day.|
The most wasted nutrients were vitamin C, K, zinc, copper, manganese, and selenium.
|N/A||Wasted food contributes to the loss of 124 g CO2 equivalents, 58 liters of freshwater, 0.36 m2 of land, 2.90 g of phosphorus, and 0.48 g of nitrogen per capita per day.|
|Wasted food, wasted nutrients: nutrient loss from wasted food in the United States and comparison to gaps in dietary intake .|
Spiker et al. (2017)
|Cross-sectional study||N/A||Food wasted at retail and consumer levels contained 1217 kcal, 33 g of protein, 5.9 g of dietary fiber, 1.7 μg of vitamin D, 286 mg of calcium, and 880 mg of potassium per capita per day.||N/A||N/A|
|Relationship between food waste, diet quality, and environmental sustainability .|
Conrad et al. (2018)
|Cross-sectional study||Consumers wasted 422 g of food per person per day.|
Fruits, vegetables, and mixed fruit and vegetable dishes represented 39% of the total food wasted.
|Over 800 kcal was wasted per person per day. The highest micronutrients wasted were carotenoids.||N/A||Annually, wasted food was grown on 7.7% of all harvested cropland in the USA. Over 60% of the land used to grow fruit, 56% of the land used to grow vegetables, and 30% of the land used to grow sweeteners were wasted.|
Annually, 4.2 trillion gallons of irrigation water, 780 million pounds of pesticides and 1.5 billion pounds of phosphorus fertilizer were used on wasted cropland.
Higher diet quality (based on the HEI-2015) was associated with greater food waste, less land use, and greater use of irrigation water and pesticides
|Valuing the multiple impacts of household food waste .|
Von Massow et al. (2019)
|Observational study as part of the Family Food Skills study.||An average of 2.98 kg of avoidable waste was generated per household each week.|
Fruit and vegetables contributed to 66% of total avoidable food waste.
|The average household wasted 3366 kcal, 64 g of fiber, 50 mcg of vitamin D, 2 mcg of vitamin B12, 434 mg of vitamin C, 1729 mcg of vitamin A, 1192 mg of calcium, and 675 mg of magnesium per week.||N/A||The global warming potential of avoidable food waste was 23.3 kg of CO2 per household per week. Fruit and vegetables represented 40% of the CO2 associated with avoidable waste.|
Avoidable waste was associated with the equivalent of 6.7 m2 of land and 5.0 m3 of water usage per household per week.
|Identifying the links between consumer food waste, nutrition, and environmental sustainability: a narrative review .|
Conrad and Blackstone (2020)
|Review||Discussed definition of food loss/waste, the amount and types of food lost or wasted throughout the food system, the drivers of consumer waste, and reduction strategies.||Discussed links between food waste and wasted nutrients.||Discussed links between diet quality and food waste; higher diet quality is associated with greater amounts of food waste. ||Discussed food waste and environmental sustainability; food waste contributes to losses of energy, water, land, pesticides, and fertilizers, and contributes to GHGE.|
|Nutrient||Range Wasted Per Capita Per Day Across Studies *|
|Energy (kcal)||54.4–1216.5 [58,62,63,64]|
|Protein (g)||2.61–32.8 [58,62,63]|
|Lipids (g)||2.21–57.2 [58,63]|
|Carbohydrate (g)||10.58–146.4 [58,63]|
|Fiber (g)||0.75–5.9 [58,61,62,63]|
|Vitamin A (ug)||88–308.1 [58,62,63]|
|Vitamin C (mg)||17.1–35.4 [62,63]|
|Vitamin K (ug)||26.7–79.2 [62,63]|
|Vitamin B12 (ug)||0.3–1.5 [62,63]|
|Vitamin B6 (mg)||0.3–0.6 [62,63]|
|Calcium (mg)||22.49–286.1 [58,61,62,63]|
|Phosphorous (mg)||37.11–450.3 [58,62,63]|
|Zinc (mg)||1.2–3.9 [62,63]|
|Potassium (mg)||323–880 [62,63]|
|Iron (mg)||1.8–5.3 [61,62,63]|
|Title, Author, Year||Study Type||Results|
|Healthy planet, healthy youth: a food systems education and promotion intervention to improve adolescent diet quality and reduce food waste .|
Prescott et al. (2019)
|Mixed-methods intervention with a nonrandomized controlled trial.||Fruit and vegetable consumption ↑ in the intervention group and ↓ in the control group.|
Vegetable waste was higher in the intervention group at baseline. Immediately following the intervention, there was no significant difference in salad bar vegetable waste between the intervention and control groups.
At 5 months follow-up, the intervention group wasted significantly less salad bar vegetables than the control group.
|Impact of a pilot school-based nutrition intervention on fruit and vegetable waste at school lunches .|
Sharma et al. (2019)
|Nonrandomized pre- and post-controlled study.|
Children from two schools received a “Brighter Bites” nutrition intervention while one school (control) did not receive any intervention.
|Fruit and vegetable selection ↓ in the control group, but not in the intervention groups.|
Children in the intervention groups ↓ the amount of fruit and vegetables wasted at each meal and per item at both 8 weeks (↓ was not significant) and 16 weeks (↓ was significant) following the intervention.
There was a significant ↓ in the amount of energy, carbohydrate, protein, fiber, B vitamins, and folate wasted by the intervention group.
|Strategies to reduce plate waste in primary schools: experimental evaluation .|
Martins et al. (2016)
Group A: children received education on nutrition and food waste.
Group B: teachers received education on food waste.
Group C: control group with no intervention.
|Group A ↓ soup waste in comparison to the control. This decrease was greater 1 week post intervention (−11.9%) than 3 months after the intervention (−5.8%). Group A also significantly ↓ plate waste of the main dishes 1 week post intervention (−33.9%), but this effect was no longer observed 3 months post intervention (−13.7%).|
Group B did not show a significant ↓ in plate waste 1 week post intervention compared with the control group. A positive effect of the intervention was evident 3 months post intervention, with a ↓in both soup waste (−5.5%) and main dish waste (−5.4%).
|Effect of classroom intervention on student food selection and plate waste: evidence from a randomized control trial .|
Serebrennikov et al. (2020)
|Randomized controlled trial||The nutrition intervention had no impact on fruit and vegetable intake or food waste in the intervention group.|
|Sustainable and acceptable school meals through optimization analysis: an intervention study .|
Eustachio et al. (2020)
|Pre- and post-design study using an interrupted time-series analysis.|
Three schools participated in the study. Children received normal menus for four weeks and an optimized 4 week menu during the intervention period.
|Optimization resulted in a food list that was 40% lower in GHGE while still meeting nutritional requirements.|
There was no significant difference in plate waste, serving waste, or consumption in any of the schools.
|Successful implementation of climate-friendly, nutritious, and acceptable school meals in practice: the OPTIMAT™ intervention study .|
Elinder et al. (2020)
|Pre- and post-design study using an interrupted time series analysis.|
Study was conducted across 4 schools in Sweden. Children received normal menus for 4 weeks and received an optimized 4 week menu during the intervention period.
|The optimized menu was 28% lower in GHGE and provided all nutrients in adequate amounts.|
Mean consumption and plate waste did not change significantly from baseline.
|Reduced-portion entrées in a worksite and restaurant setting: impact on food consumption and waste .|
Berkowitz et al. (2016)
|Pre–post design intervention: introduction of a reduced-portion menu in two food-service operators.||The offering of reduced sized portions led to a ↓ in intakes of energy, fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, Na, fiber, calcium, potassium, and iron, and a ↓ in plate waste.|
|Title, Author, Year||Study Type||Results|
|Dutch food bank parcels do not meet nutritional guidelines for a healthy diet .|
Neter et al. (2016)
Part of the Dutch food bank study
|Parcels provided excess energy, protein, and SFAs and insufficient amounts of fruit and fish.|
Parcels typically supplied enough fruit and fish for <2.5 days, while fiber, energy, protein, vegetables, fat, SFA, and carbohydrates were supplied for >2.5 days.
|Nutritional adequacy and content of food bank parcels in Oxfordshire, UK: a comparative analysis of independent and organizational provision .|
Fallaize et al. (2020)
|Comparative analysis of Trussel Trust food bank and 9 additional independent food banks||Parcels provided excess energy, protein, carbohydrate, sugars, fat, fiber, and salt.|
Retinol and vitamin D were the only micronutrients for which the parcels did not meet DRVs.
|Is UK emergency food nutritionally adequate? A critical evaluation of the nutritional content of UK food bank parcels .|
Turnbull and Bhakta (2016)
|Critical evaluation of the nutritional content of UK food bank parcels||Mean energy and the % energy of macronutrient intake of the emergency food parcels met the EAR and DRVs, but the constructed meal plans provided insufficient energy. A high proportion of energy supplied was from carbohydrates.|
Meal plans were low in fruit and vegetables and milk and dairy products in comparison to the EatWell Plate.
The provision of vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and zinc was only within LRNIs.
|Nutritional quality and price of food hampers distributed by a campus food bank: a Canadian experience .|
Jessri et al. (2014)
|Time-series analysis||Hampers provided adequate energy, but insufficient animal protein and fat.|
All hampers did not meet requirements for vitamin A and zinc.
The nutritional quality of the hampers improved significantly from 2006–2011 due to the inclusion of perishable items.
|Nutritional quality of emergency foods .|
Hoisington et al. (2011)
|Cross-sectional study||66% of food supplied fell into the fruit, vegetable, grains and meat/beans and milk categories; 34% were condiments or baking supplies, discretionary calories, or combination or variety foods.|
Fruit and milk groups were supplied in smaller quantities than the meat/bean, grains, and vegetable groups.
|The nutritional quality of food provided from food pantries: a systematic review of existing literature .|
Simmet et al. (2017)
(n = 9)
|There were large variations in supply between studies.|
7 studies reported that the food supply did not provide sufficient amounts/types of food for the number of days the bag was intended to last, while 2 studies reported that the food supply was adequate.
Energy requirements were met or exceeded in 4 out of 6 studies that measured energy provision. Energy requirements were not met in 2 studies.
In particular, dairy products and products containing vitamins A, D, and C, calcium, and zinc were lacking.
|A technical and policy case study of large-scale rescue and redistribution of perishable foods by the “Leket Israel” food bank .|
Philip et al. (2017)
|Case study||The food bank functions as a wholesale operation under a business-to-business model. Food is distributed via NPOs.|
The food bank matches the supply of perishable foods with real-time demand so as not to redistribute waste down the supply chain.
Food is obtained from an Agricultural Gleaning project, Self-Grown Farm project, and a Meal Rescue project. Dietitians are employed to cover the areas of food safety, raising awareness of nutrition and good nutritional habits, and tracking nutritional performance.
In 2014, 93% of food rescued was healthy food, and 87% of food was from the fruit and vegetable groups.
|The dietary quality of food pantry users: a systematic review of existing literature .|
Simmet et al. (2017)
(n = 15)
|Mean energy intake, fruit and vegetable portions, and milk and dairy servings were less than recommended in all but 1 study, and mean intakes of meat and meat products were within recommendations.|
|Mitigating seafood waste through a bycatch donation program .|
Watson et al. (2020)
|Case study||The Prohibited Species Donation (PSD) program donates trawl fishery prohibited species catch (PSC) that would otherwise be discarded to hunger relief organizations. Over 23.5 million servings of high-quality seafood (salmon and halibut) have been redistributed to provide nutritious food to food banks, while reducing food waste.|
|Food-aid quality correlates positively with diet quality of food pantry users in the Leket Israel food bank collaborative .|
Philip et al. (2018)
|Exploratory cross-sectional study||Overall, pantry users had poor diet quality, including excessive/inadequate energy intake and micronutrient deficiencies.|
On average, a basket provided insufficient energy, protein, and fiber. Less than 1/3 of the baskets provided the full household requirement for most minerals and vitamins and only 1/4 of the baskets supplied the number of fruit and vegetable portions recommended per household.
The food provided by Leket Israel increased the total number of healthy portions and fruit and vegetable portions and increased the fiber, vitamin, and mineral content in an average food pantry or NPO basket.
Higher-quality baskets were associated with higher-quality diets, and the fruit and vegetable portions contributed by Leket Israel correlated positively with dietary quality.
|Food rescue—an Australian example .|
Lindberg et al. (2014)
|Multimethod qualitative study||SecondBite provides access to fresh, nutritious food for people in need by rescuing perishable healthy food. In 2013, they rescued 3.9 million kilograms of food (almost eight million meals).|
They offer nutrition education and food skills programs for staff and clients and employ dietetic staff.
Rescued food contributed to savings in energy, water, and CO2.
|Title, Author, Year||Type of |
|Food Waste||Plastic/Packaging Waste|
|Belgian dietary guidelines|
The food triangle for the Flemish community 2017 .
|Food-based dietary guidelines||Reduce overconsumption and waste.|
Ecological gains can be made by reducing food waste.
Recommendations: draw up a weekly menu and shopping list to reduce food waste.
|Danish dietary guidelines|
The official dietary guidelines 2013 .
|Food-based dietary guidelines||Avoid food waste.|
Recommendations: think about the food you buy and throw away, plan purchases, avoid impulse purchases, do not buy or eat more than you need, store food at the right temperature, pay attention to shelf-life, and use leftovers.
|The Swiss Food Pyramid 2016 .||Food-based dietary guidelines||Avoiding food waste advocated as sustainable eating habit.||N/A|
|German dietary guidelines 2017 .||Food-based dietary guidelines||Food waste wastes valuable resources.|
Vegetables and fruit with quirks and stains also provide vitamins and minerals.
Recommendations: check supplies, buy only what you need with a shopping list, and recycle/freeze leftovers.
Food that is past best before date does not need to be thrown out: assess taste and smell.
|Use tap instead of bottled water to save on packaging.|
|Qatar dietary guidelines 2015 .||Food-based dietary guidelines||Reduce leftovers and waste.|
Reduce overconsumption to avoid food waste.
Recommendations: Store foods safely and properly and plan meals and shopping to decrease food waste.
|Reduce overconsumption to avoid packaging waste.|
Cooking dried legumes instead of using canned versions reduces packaging waste.
Choose foods that do not have more packaging than is required.
|Canadian dietary guidelines 2019 .||Food-based dietary guidelines||Food waste linked to poor food skills.|
Wasted food has an environmental impact.
Recommendations: meal planning, storing perishable foods properly, and using leftovers can help to reduce food waste.
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Brennan, A.; Browne, S. Food Waste and Nutrition Quality in the Context of Public Health: A Scoping Review. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18, 5379. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18105379
Brennan A, Browne S. Food Waste and Nutrition Quality in the Context of Public Health: A Scoping Review. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2021; 18(10):5379. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18105379Chicago/Turabian Style
Brennan, Aoife, and Sarah Browne. 2021. "Food Waste and Nutrition Quality in the Context of Public Health: A Scoping Review" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 18, no. 10: 5379. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18105379