LAST_UPDATESun, 22 Jul 2018 10am

Ramadan: 9,000 Tonnes Of Unfinished Food Being Thrown Away Daily

It is the first day of Ramadan today, and we bet you have come across many ‘buka puasa’ advertisements, promotions in restaurants, fast food joints, and not to mention, tempted by giant billboards offering buffet specials in hotels. It goes without saying, you are also planning to drop by one of the must-go-to food bazaars in your area later this evening so you could have a feast.

While this is a common scenario every year, where Malaysians splurge money on food, even more so in this time of month, strangely enough this happens in a time when many are still complaining about rising prices, the burden of Goods and Services Tax (GST) and high cost of living. This lavishness of food unvaryingly goes hand in hand with wastage.

A research last year by the Solid Waste And Public Cleansing Corporation (SWCorp) revealed Malaysians waste 15,000 tonnes of food daily, with 3,000 tonnes still fit to consume being thrown away, and sadly, the amount is enough to feed two million hungry people.

It is also surprising that each Ramadan, an average of 9,000 tonnes of food was discarded daily, equivalent to about 270,000 tonnes of food in the month, according to SWCorp.

It is also surprising that each Ramadan, an average of 9,000 tonnes of food was discarded daily.It is also surprising that each Ramadan, an average of 9,000 tonnes of food was discarded daily.

Its Chief Executive Officer Datuk Abdul Rahim Md Noor stated, “These foods can feed more than 180 million people, six times more than our population right now which is almost 30 million,” adding that the company has initiated the Mindset Transformation Programme with hotels and eateries to donate excessive leftovers to welfare institutions.

NGOs Acting On Food Wastage

There is no denying that Malaysians love to eat and take pride in the variety of good foods we have. But we must admit at times, we do go overboard and tend to feast with our eyes, buying and taking more than we can consume during Ramadan.

However, there are non-governmental organisations (NGO) that are always mindful and worried over the fact, reminding Malaysians that our leftovers should not go straight into the dustbin. Food Aid Foundation is one of them.

Malaysian Digest spoke with the NGO that acts as a food bank where manufacturers, distributors, wholesaler, retailers, companies or individuals can donate their discarded foods, which will then be collected and allocated to welfare institutions, refugee communities, poor families, as well as soup kitchens, among others.

The organisation’s project manager Hayati Ismail, affirmed the amount of food wastage during this Ramadan is bound to increase.

Pic: Hayati IsmailPic: Hayati Ismail“It’s not about eating more, but people are spoilt for choice when they see the variety of food on the buffet spread.

“So, they tend to take everything on their plates, and find that they are not able to finish the food they take in the end.

“Plus, during this time, most people would choose to go to places that offer a variety of foods,” she told us.

Hayati adds that companies are more likely to encourage buka puasa feasts, treating employees to buffets in hotels.

When asked on the measures that have been taken to avoid food wastage during Ramadan, Hayati opines as far as buka puasa buffets go, the demands are high and there is no stopping it.

Nevertheless, as part of its initiatives to reduce food wastage, for the last three years, Food Aid Foundation have been rescuing surplus food and to date have managed to deliver them to more than a hundred welfare institutions around Klang Valley every month.

Also, to feed the poor during this Ramadan, Food Aid Foundation is targeting to raise funds to distribute a thousand boxes of food worth RM150.

As a reminder to all Malaysians and especially Muslims during this month, Hayati relayed, “We are blessed with many foods in Malaysia and I think no one should starve of hunger here. Unfortunately, it is the reality these days."

“We must remember to only take an adequate amount of food, not more than what we can eat. I hope that the foods that are not served and discarded can be given way to those who really need it,” she stressed.

Islam Reminds Muslims Not To Waste Food

Ramadan is indeed a holy month for the Muslims − a time for accumulating merits by doing good deeds and restraining bad habits, practising self-control as well as observe moderation in everything, including not eating excessively.

Muslims must strive to be conscientious when it comes to the way they treat food and basically cannot afford to waste it. They are also urged to share food with the poor − not only from leftovers, but on the same day it is harvested.

In Islam, every act is considered an act of worship if done in accordance to the ways prescribed by God, and eating is one of them.

In the Quran (Surah Al-An'am, Chapter 6: Verse 141), God reminds Muslims: “Eat – But waste not by excess: for God does not love the wasters.”

He also likened those who are wasteful to the devil as stated in Surah Al-Isra, Chapter 17: Verse 27: “Indeed, the wasteful are brothers of the devils, and ever has Satan been to his Lord ungrateful.”

According to the hadith narrated by Anas (RAA), “The Prophet (PBUH) ordered us not to leave anything in the plate and he said: ‘You do not know in which portion of your food Allah has put the Barakah (Blessing)’.”

In a blog posting, Ustaz Dr Mohd Shauqi Othman, Senior Lecturer in Universiti Putra Malaysia emphasised how Ramadan is meant to educate Muslims about being frugal in their spending. Instead, the complete opposite happens as people are more willing to spend on various delicacies when it comes to breaking their fast.

“It’s indeed very surprising to see how some people grow very lethargic and lifeless while fasting, but when sunset approaches and it is time to break their fast and buy their meals, their lethargy somehow goes away.

“That’s the time they buy more food than they can eat. It is as if they want to make up for not eating during breakfast, lunch and tea time, hence there will be a lot of food wastage.

“Some Muslims even treat breaking their fast like a ‘food festival’. And fasting month turns into ‘eating month’.

“This kind of attitude displayed by those who do not appreciate the true meaning of Ramadan would taint the sanctity of this holy month,” he wrote.

Although eating is required for the survival of human beings, to maintain good health and nourish the body and mind, overeating on the other hand clearly poses threats to our health as well. For example, obesity and diabetes, stem from gluttony. That is why in Islam, prevention is considered better than cure.

The Prophet Muhammad said: “No man fills a vessel worse than his stomach. A few mouthfuls that would suffice to keep his back upright are enough for a man. But if he must eat more, than he should fill one third (of his stomach) with food, one third with drink and leave one third for easy breathing.”

Regardless of our beliefs, we should never waste any amount of food, and start eating or buying food that we need and can eat in a day. Let’s bear in mind, excessive food could go into storage containers for the next day, otherwise, they should be donated to charity.

Regardless of our beliefs, we should never waste any amount of food, and start eating or buying food that we need and can eat in a day. Regardless of our beliefs, we should never waste any amount of food, and start eating or buying food that we need and can eat in a day.

Besides, we should always count our blessings, and focus on giving to those who have less. As the Prophet himself has said: “When you see one who has more, look to one who has less.” This being said, we should think twice before wasting any food.


--Malaysian Digest