Rice is most wasted food in Filipino dining table – FNRI study

This was the finding of the 6th Nutrition Survey of 2003, whose booklet form was released to information officers and local reporters only this year.

The Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) said that computation of the average per kilo wastage of rice among Filipinos would reveal that an estimated 80 million population would waste 1,120 metric tons of rice each daily.

The study shows that for every 364 grams of cereals made available to every person in the dining table, 16 grams of are physically wasted as leftovers.

Of the cereals, rice remains the staple. Of the cereals under computation, rice would consist 303 grams. Of this serving of rice per diner, 14 grams are wasted as leftovers in the plate.

Corn is a far second staple. Only about 31 grams of the total cereals computed in the study, would come from corn, of which one gram is left over in the plate.

Catherine Rose Josue, science research specialist of the FNRI-Department of Science and Technology (DOST), said that this was the first time that physical food wastage was included in the nutrition survey.

“What a pity that we have this much to waste,” she quipped in between slides presentations of the result of the survey.

Perpetua Labadia, nutritionist-dietician of the regional office here of the Department of Health, said that it was “lamentable to hear about this while many are hungry”.

Rice, the main carbohydrate source of the Filipino diet, was previously locally supplied but by the third quarter of the 20th century, the Philippines started to import, a policy move touched off by rapid urbanization and widespread conversion of agricultural lands to cash-crop plantations, commercial and industrial uses.

Rice is also the main bulk of the ordinary Filipino dining plate, contributing to the high carbohydrate intake compared to other nutrients.

Carbohydrate is 69.9 percent of the average kilo-calorie (kcal) energy requirement of the body. Fats contribute 18.3 percent of the energy source, while protein chips in only 11.8 percent. The three nutrients are the main sources of energy intake among Filipinos. Each Filipino would require 1,905 kcal daily.

“The mean dietary energy that is lost due to household food wastage is 64 kcal per capita [or per person] per day,” the survey said.

The survey added that the total dietary energy “that is lost per day due to household food wastage can more than adequately provide for the energy requirement of 3.2 million underweight  0-5 year-old children per day”.

The FNRI said that about 3.1 million children in this age group are underweight, and another 2.4 million children in the next age group, 6-10 years old, are similarly  below  normal weight for their age.

Rice and corn are not the only food items studied. The survey identifies fish and other marine products are the next group wasted, at 3.8 percent, and vegetables, at 3.6 percent.

Rice, and other cereals, often comprise the largest slice of the actual expenses on food. The average Filipino household would spend P36.02 in food per member per day. Of this

amount, rice or other cereals would comprise P10.41 already, the FNRI survey said.

The nutrition survey is conducted every five years, since 1978. The next survey would be conducted in 2008.