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Wasted Food, Wasted Nutrients: Nutrient Loss from Wasted Food in the United States and Comparison to Gaps in Dietary Intake

Open AccessPublished:May 15, 2017DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jand.2017.03.015

      Abstract

      Background

      Previous research has estimated that wasted food in the United States contains between 1,249 and 1,400 kcal per capita per day, but little is known about amounts of other nutrients embedded in the 31% to 40% of food that is wasted.

      Objective

      This research aimed to calculate the nutritional value of food wasted at the retail and consumer levels in the US food supply, and contextualize the amount of nutrient loss in terms of gaps between current and recommended intakes and estimated food recovery potential.

      Design

      Data from the National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference were used to calculate the nutritional value of retail- and consumer-level waste of 213 commodities in the US Department of Agriculture Loss-Adjusted Food Availability data series for 27 nutrients in 2012.

      Results

      Food wasted at the retail and consumer levels of the US food supply in 2012 contained 1,217 kcal, 33 g protein, 5.9 g dietary fiber, 1.7 μg vitamin D, 286 mg calcium, and 880 mg potassium per capita per day. Using dietary fiber as an example, 5.9 g dietary fiber is 23% of the Recommended Dietary Allowance for women. This is equivalent to the fiber Recommended Dietary Allowance for 74 million adult women. Adult women in 2012 underconsumed dietary fiber by 8.9 g/day, and the amount of wasted fiber is equivalent to this gap for 206.6 million adult women.

      Conclusions

      This was the first study to document the loss of nutrients from wasted food in the US food supply, to our knowledge. Although only a portion of discarded food can realistically be made available for human consumption, efforts to redistribute surplus foods where appropriate and prevent food waste in the first place could increase the availability of nutrients for Americans, while saving money and natural resources.

      Keywords

      The Continuing Professional Education (CPE) quiz for this article is available for free to Academy members through the MyCDRGo app (available for iOS and Android devices) and via www.eatrightPRO.org. Simply log in with your Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics or Commission on Dietetic Registration username and password, go to the My Account section of My Academy Toolbar, click the “Access Quiz” link, click “Journal Article Quiz” on the next page, then click the “Additional Journal CPE quizzes” button to view a list of available quizzes. Non-members may take CPE quizzes by sending a request to [email protected] . There is a fee of $45 per quiz (includes quiz and copy of article) for non-member Journal CPE. CPE quizzes are valid for 1 year after the issue date in which the articles are published.
      In the United States, between 31% and 40% of the food supply is wasted before it reaches consumers.
      • Buzby J.C.
      • Wells H.F.
      • Hyman J.
      The Estimated Amount, Value, and Calories Of Postharvest Food Losses at the Retail and Consumer Levels in the United States.
      • Hall K.D.
      • Guo J.
      • Dore M.
      • Chow C.C.
      The progressive increase of food waste in America and its environmental impact.
      Policies and interventions to reduce waste and redirect surplus food can reduce food costs, benefit the environment, and improve food security.
      • Venkat K.
      The climate change and economic impacts of food waste in the United States.
      • Kummu M.
      • De Moel H.
      • Porkka M.
      • Siebert S.
      • Varis O.
      • Ward P.
      Lost food, wasted resources: Global food supply chain losses and their impacts on freshwater, cropland, and fertiliser use.
      • Munesue Y.
      • Masui T.
      • Fushima T.
      The effects of reducing food losses and food waste on global food insecurity, natural resources, and greenhouse gas emissions.
      • Neff R.A.
      • Kanter R.
      • Vandevijvere S.
      Reducing food loss and waste while improving the public’s health.
      As described in a recent report from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, nutrition and dietetics practitioners have an important role to play in addressing this waste while advancing nutrition, such as promoting consumer behavior change through nutrition education.
      • Vogliano C.
      • Brown K.
      The state of America’s wasted food and opportunities to make a difference.
      In this article, “nutrient loss” refers to the nutrient content embedded within food loss and waste. Although the terms “food loss,” “food waste” and “wasted food” are sometimes used interchangeably, in this article “wasted food” is primarily used.
      In this article, “wasted food” (verb-noun) is used primarily because it emphasizes that an action, waste, is being done to a product, food. By contrast, “food waste” (adjective-noun) treats food as a type of waste, which is an unappetizing frame when food recovery is part of the goal.
      In this article, “wasted food” (verb-noun) is used primarily because it emphasizes that an action, waste, is being done to a product, food. By contrast, “food waste” (adjective-noun) treats food as a type of waste, which is an unappetizing frame when food recovery is part of the goal.

      Tracking Caloric and Nutrient Losses

      Most research efforts to quantify wasted food have focused on food weight or economic value, or on waste as a proportion of available food by supply chain level.
      • Buzby J.C.
      • Hyman J.
      Total and per capita value of food loss in the United States.
      • Gustavsson J.
      • Cederberg C.
      • Sonesson U.
      • Van Otterdijk R.
      • Meybeck A.
      Global Food Losses and Food Waste - Extent, Causes and Prevention.
      • Kantor L.S.
      • Lipton K.
      • Manchester A.
      • Oliveira V.
      Estimating and addressing America’s food losses.
      • Parfitt J.
      • Barthel M.
      • Macnaughton S.
      Food waste within food supply chains: Quantification and potential for change to 2050.
      The few studies examining nutritional value have focused primarily on calories. For example, Buzby and colleagues
      • Buzby J.C.
      • Wells H.F.
      • Hyman J.
      The Estimated Amount, Value, and Calories Of Postharvest Food Losses at the Retail and Consumer Levels in the United States.
      linked US Department of Agriculture (USDA) data with underlying loss assumptions, estimating that retail- and consumer-level food loss in 2010 was equivalent to 1,249 kcal per capita per day. Hall and colleagues
      • Hall K.D.
      • Guo J.
      • Dore M.
      • Chow C.C.
      The progressive increase of food waste in America and its environmental impact.
      estimated that food loss and waste across the US supply chain accounted for approximately 1,400 kcal per person per day in 2003. This estimate represented the difference between food available to the US population (according to Food and Agriculture Organization food balance sheets) and average caloric intake, using a mathematical model incorporating energy requirements, demographic distribution, and dietary intake data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Kummu and colleagues
      • Kummu M.
      • De Moel H.
      • Porkka M.
      • Siebert S.
      • Varis O.
      • Ward P.
      Lost food, wasted resources: Global food supply chain losses and their impacts on freshwater, cropland, and fertiliser use.
      also used Food and Agriculture Organization food balance sheet data, together with other country-level data, to estimate 1,334 kcal per person per day embedded in food loss and waste in North America and Oceania.
      Focusing on only the caloric value of wasted food may overrepresent the influence of calorie-dense foods, losing sight of other nutrients that are wasted.
      High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition
      Food Losses and Waste in the Context of Sustainable Food Systems. A Report by the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition of the Committee of World Food Security.
      Nutrient-dense foods such as vegetables, fruits, seafood, and dairy products are wasted at disproportionately high rates,
      • Buzby J.C.
      • Wells H.F.
      • Hyman J.
      The Estimated Amount, Value, and Calories Of Postharvest Food Losses at the Retail and Consumer Levels in the United States.

      Quested T, Ingle R, Parry A. Household food and drink waste in the United Kingdom 2012. http://www.wrap.org.uk/content/household-food-and-drink-waste-uk-2012. Accessed June 6, 2016.

      suggesting that wasted food may have a substantial influence on the supply of micronutrients.
      • Miller D.D.
      • Welch R.M.
      Food system strategies for preventing micronutrient malnutrition.
      To our knowledge, only two published studies have examined the nutrient content of wasted food beyond calories. Love and colleagues
      • Love D.C.
      • Fry J.P.
      • Milli M.C.
      • Neff R.A.
      Wasted seafood in the United States: Quantifying loss from production to consumption and moving toward solutions.
      estimated the calorie, protein, and eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acid content in the 40% to 47% of seafood that is lost in the United States. A project funded by the European Commission Framework Programme examined waste of nine indicator food products (apples, tomatoes, potatoes, bread, milk, beef, pork, chicken, and whitefish) in European Union member countries, reporting substantial losses of vitamin A, beta carotene, vitamin C, fiber, iron, zinc, n-3 fatty acids, lysine, and methionine.

      Food Use for Social Innovation by Optimising Food Waste Prevention Strategies (FUSIONS). Criteria for and baseline assessment of environmental and socio-economic impacts of food waste. http://www.eu-fusions.org/index.php/publications/266-establishing-reliable-data-on-food-waste-and-harmonising-quantification-methods. Accessed June 6, 2016.

      Still absent from the literature is a broad quantification of nutrient losses across the US food supply.
      Such an examination is feasible through publicly available data sources. The USDA Food Availability data series tracks more than 200 commodities, taking into account quantities produced and imported, and subtracting food used for nonfood purposes (eg, exports and farm inputs).

      US Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. Food availability documentation. https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/food-availability-per-capita-data-system/food-availability-documentation/. Accessed June 13, 2016.

      The Loss-Adjusted Food Availability (LAFA) data series further refines the amount of food available for human consumption by excluding nonedible food portions and food losses occurring at the primary (ie, farm or producer), retail, and consumer levels.

      US Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. Loss-adjusted food availability documentation. https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/food-availability-per-capita-data-system/loss-adjusted-food-availability-documentation/. Accessed June 13, 2016.

      These losses include cooking loss, spoilage, food discarded due to aesthetic standards, and consumer plate waste. The USDA also maintains the Nutrient Availability data series, which includes data on the availability of 27 nutrients and food components based on the Food Availability data series.

      US Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. Nutrient availability documentation. https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/food-availability-per-capita-data-system/nutrient-availability-documentation/. Accessed June 13, 2016.

      No such nutrient data exist for the LAFA data series, so current figures overestimate nutrient availability in the food supply because they include the nutrient content of 133 billion pounds of food loss unavailable for human consumption.
      • Buzby J.C.
      • Wells H.F.
      • Hyman J.
      The Estimated Amount, Value, and Calories Of Postharvest Food Losses at the Retail and Consumer Levels in the United States.
      This study aimed to estimate the nutrient content of those discarded foods, thereby providing the first quantification of a comprehensive set of nutrients wasted at the retail and consumer levels of the US food supply.

      Gaps in Dietary Intake and Potential for Food Recovery

      Wasted food coexists with widespread need. Fourteen percent of US households were food insecure in 2014, meaning they struggled to provide food at some point in the year, whereas 5.6% had very low food security, meaning lack of resources led to disrupted eating patterns such as skipped meals or reduced overall intake.

      Coleman-Jensen A, Rabbitt MP, Gregory C, Singh A. Household food security in the United States in 2014. Washington, DC: US Department of Agriculture; 2015. Economic Research Report No. 194.

      In addition to food quantity, nutritional quality is also important, and certain micronutrients are consumed at levels below the Estimated Average Requirement (EAR) or Adequate Intake (AI) levels at a population level. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) reported that these underconsumed nutrients include dietary fiber; calcium; choline; magnesium; potassium; and vitamins A, C, D, and E for all population groups and iron for adolescent girls and women of reproductive age.

      US Departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture. 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 8th ed. https://health.gov/DietaryGuidelines/. Accessed June 6, 2016.

      The DGA identified a subset—dietary fiber, calcium, potassium, and vitamin D—as “nutrients of public health concern” due to the health consequences that can result from underconsumption.

      US Departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture. 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 8th ed. https://health.gov/DietaryGuidelines/. Accessed June 6, 2016.

      It is neither practical nor desirable to divert all wasted food to anti-hunger efforts or to helping Americans obtain needed nutrients. The US Environmental Protection Agency describes a food recovery hierarchy in which the top priority is waste prevention, followed by feeding the food to those who are hungry (food recovery), feeding it to animals, diverting food toward industrial uses, and composting, with discarding food in a landfill as a last resort.

      US Environmental Protection Agency. Food recovery hierarchy. https://www.epa.gov/sustainable-management-food. Accessed July 27, 2016.

      A report by Rethink Food Waste Through Economics and Data (ReFED), a collaboration of business, nonprofit, philanthropic, and government leaders, estimated that annually in the United States, 1.7 million tons of food are recovered for distribution to those in need, but still 52.4 million tons are discarded in landfills and 10.1 million tons are left in farm fields, totaling 62.5 million tons.

      Rethink Food Waste Through Economics and Data (ReFED). A roadmap to reduce US Food Waste by 20%. http://www.refed.com/download. Accessed June 6, 2016.

      ReFED estimated that 20% of this discarded food could be diverted from landfills by implementing a set of cost-effective activities with three goals: food recovery, composting, and waste prevention. These activities can contribute to the goal set by the USDA and the Environmental Protection Agency to halve US food loss and waste by 2030.

      US Environmental Protection Agency. United States 2030 food loss and waste reduction goal. https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/epa-and-usda-join-private-sector-charitable-organizations-set-nations-first-goals. Accessed July 27, 2016.

      Purpose and Research Questions

      This study aimed to estimate the amount of nutrient loss, on a per capita per day basis, in the US food supply during 2012. To provide context, the nutrient loss is expressed relative to recommended intakes, gaps between recommended and mean current intakes, and estimates of the amount of food that could be recovered. The resultant nutrient loss estimates illustrate how waste of food represents a loss to food security, nutrition, and the broader society. They can thus help justify investments in food recovery and prevention, and support the case for engagement by registered dietitian nutritionists in these efforts. These estimates can also serve as a baseline to measure progress toward waste reduction and recovery.

      Materials and Methods

      Data Sources

      Two USDA data sources were used for the primary analysis: the LAFA data series

      US Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. Loss-adjusted food availability documentation. https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/food-availability-per-capita-data-system/loss-adjusted-food-availability-documentation/. Accessed June 13, 2016.

      was used for estimates of food availability and loss, and the National Nutrient Database For Standard Reference, Release 28 (US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service Nutrient Data Laboratory) (SR-28) was used to obtain nutrient composition data for each commodity in the LAFA data series. The LAFA data series provides estimates for the availability of 213 commodities (pounds per capita per year) and percentages of food loss at the primary, retail, and consumer levels annually from 1974 to 2012. Estimates from 2012 were used except for nine foods (primarily fats and oils) for which data were unavailable; for those, the most recent estimates were used. Although the data series does not include every food available for consumption in the United States—for example, it includes kale and collard greens, but not Swiss chard—it forms the most comprehensive representation of the US food supply for which data on food loss are currently available. Consistent with the methods presented by Buzby and colleagues,
      • Buzby J.C.
      • Wells H.F.
      • Hyman J.
      The Estimated Amount, Value, and Calories Of Postharvest Food Losses at the Retail and Consumer Levels in the United States.
      this analysis excluded nonedible portions of food and focused only on the retail and consumer levels due to inconsistent data availability at the primary level.
      Additional data sources, described below, included NHANES What We Eat in America,

      US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center, Food Surveys Research Group and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. What We Eat in America, NHANES 2011-2012, individuals 2 years and over (excluding breast-fed children), day 1. www.ars.usda.gov/nea/bhnrc/fsrg. Accessed June 13, 2016.

      the Dietary Reference Intakes,
      Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board
      Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein and Amino Acids.
      and US Census Bureau estimates of population size for the 2012 midpoint (ie, July 1).

      US Census Bureau, Population Division. Table 1. Monthly Population Estimates for the United States: April 1, 2010 to November 1, 2013 (NA-EST2012-01). http://www.census.gov/data/tables/2016/demo/popest/nation-total.html. Accessed June 6, 2016.

      Calculations of Nutrient Loss

      For each commodity in the LAFA data series, a representative food or an average of representative foods was matched from the SR-28 database, resulting in 290 SR-28 food codes.
      • Buzby J.C.
      • Wells H.F.
      • Hyman J.
      The Estimated Amount, Value, and Calories Of Postharvest Food Losses at the Retail and Consumer Levels in the United States.
      • Kantor L.S.
      A Dietary Assessment of the US Food Supply: Comparing per Capita Food Consumption with Food Guide Pyramid Serving Recommendations.
      For example, butter was represented by the average of: “01001: butter, salted” and “01145: butter, without salt.”
      • Buzby J.C.
      • Wells H.F.
      • Hyman J.
      The Estimated Amount, Value, and Calories Of Postharvest Food Losses at the Retail and Consumer Levels in the United States.
      • Kantor L.S.
      A Dietary Assessment of the US Food Supply: Comparing per Capita Food Consumption with Food Guide Pyramid Serving Recommendations.
      The choice of codes was based on previous USDA research efforts described in Table 1 (available online at www.jandonline.org), which also contains the full codebook and detailed rationale. For each selection, nutrient composition was obtained from SR-28 for a standardized 100-g unit of food.
      A detailed explanation of all calculations appears in Table 2 (available online at www.jandonline.org). Because the analysis was restricted to the retail and consumer levels due to the unavailability of consistent data at the primary level, calculations were performed to isolate annual per capita waste at the retail and consumer levels for each of the commodities, thereby excluding waste at the primary level or from nonedible portions. Subsequently, the amount of each nutrient present in this amount of waste was calculated, and amounts were summed by nutrient to estimate nutrient loss per capita per year resulting from the waste of all 213 commodities. To estimate losses on a per capita per day basis, nutrient loss per capita per year was divided by 365. To estimate losses on a per population per day basis, nutrient loss per capita per day was multiplied by the 2012 total population size (313,914,040) as specified by the US Census Bureau.

      US Census Bureau, Population Division. Table 1. Monthly Population Estimates for the United States: April 1, 2010 to November 1, 2013 (NA-EST2012-01). http://www.census.gov/data/tables/2016/demo/popest/nation-total.html. Accessed June 6, 2016.

      In some calculations, the 2012 adult population size (226,456,000) was used to relate the amount of nutrient loss per population per day to the amount of nutrients that would be recommended for adults in the population.

      Calculations to Compare Nutrient Loss to Dietary Intake

      To contextualize nutrient loss, gaps between current and recommended dietary intakes were calculated. Mean current nutrient intakes were obtained from What We Eat in America, the dietary interview component of the NHANES 2011-2012 survey, on usual dietary intakes for adults aged 20 years and older.

      US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. Nutrient intakes from food and beverages: Mean amounts consumed per individual, by gender and age, What We Eat in America, NHANES 2011-2012. www.ars.usda.gov/nea/bhnrc/fsrg. Accessed June 6, 2016.

      NHANES data are gathered from 24-hour dietary recalls and are a useful indicator of consumption, given that the USDA Food Availability and LAFA data series reflect food availability and losses but not dietary consumption. Recommended intakes are also presented, based on the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) or the AI. The RDA is the level of daily nutrient intake that will meet the needs of 97.5% of healthy individuals, and it is set at two standard deviations above the EAR, the intake level that will meet the needs of 50% of healthy individuals.
      Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board
      Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein and Amino Acids.
      The AI is an observed or experimentally derived analog of the RDA used for nutrients for which it is not feasible to determine the EAR. All values presented for the RDA and AI are the most recent estimates from the Dietary Reference Intakes from the Institute of Medicine.
      • Hellwig J.P.
      • Otten J.J.
      • Meyers L.D.
      Dietary Reference Intakes: The Essential Guide to Nutrient Requirements.
      For recommended intakes, “adult” refers to the RDA or AI for the age group 19 to 30 years; for many nutrients, the recommendations for this age group are equivalent to the recommendations for the 31 to 50 years and 51 to 70 years age groups. For energy, 2,000 kcal/day was used as the recommended intake for both men and women, although actual needs depend on height, weight, and physical activity.
      Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board
      Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein and Amino Acids.
      For underconsumed nutrients, gaps in dietary consumption were calculated, defined as the difference between mean current intakes and recommended intakes. Although the DGA defines underconsumed nutrients in relation to the EAR,

      US Departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture. 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 8th ed. https://health.gov/DietaryGuidelines/. Accessed June 6, 2016.

      this analysis used the RDA because the RDA is intended for recommendations at the individual level. In addition, given that the RDA is higher than the EAR by two standard deviations,
      Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board
      Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein and Amino Acids.
      the RDA provides a more conservative estimate of the potential influence of food loss on nutrient availability (ie, a given amount of nutrients can provide more people with the EAR than it can the RDA).
      Calculations were also performed to estimate the nutritional value that could be recovered if the US were to achieve the potential for food recovery suggested by ReFED’s analysis. ReFED aggregated multiple primary and secondary data sources including expert interviews, estimating that currently only 1.7 million tons (2.7%) of wasted food are recovered.

      Rethink Food Waste Through Economics and Data (ReFED). A roadmap to reduce US Food Waste by 20%. http://www.refed.com/download. Accessed June 6, 2016.

      ReFED projected that a maximum of 5.8 million additional tons of food per year (9.2% of the estimated amount currently wasted) could feasibly be made available for human consumption through recovery efforts over the next 10 years, and that 1.1 million additional tons of food per year (1.75% of the estimated amount wasted) could be recovered over the next 10 years by scaling up only the top seven most cost-effective food recovery activities. As such, 1.75% and 9.21% were used as the boundaries for this set of calculations.

      Data Management and Ethical Approval

      The above-described methods are depicted graphically in Figure 1. Data from the LAFA data series and SR-28 were downloaded and compiled into spreadsheets in Microsoft Excel (Microsoft Corp) for calculations. Nutrient composition data for each food were stored in a separate file, and a MATLAB script

      MATLAB version 2014a. Natick, MA: The MathWorks, Inc; 2014.

      was developed to compile data from all 290 SR-28 food codes in a single Excel spreadsheet. For all data that were transferred from one file to another, a 5% subsample was double checked by a second author, and discrepancies were resolved by referring to the original data sets. This research was reviewed and classified as exempt by the institutional review board at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health because all data were derived from existing, publicly available sources and no original research involving human subjects was conducted.
      Figure thumbnail gr1
      Figure 1Diagram of data sources and calculations used to generate estimates of nutrient loss in the US food supply in 2012, and locations of results within the article. aLAFA=Loss Adjusted Food Availability.

      US Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. Loss-adjusted food availability documentation. https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/food-availability-per-capita-data-system/loss-adjusted-food-availability-documentation/. Accessed June 13, 2016.

      bSR-28=National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 28 (US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service Nutrient Data Laboratory). cDRI=Dietary Reference Intakes.
      Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board
      Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein and Amino Acids.
      dWWEIA=What We Eat in America.

      US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center, Food Surveys Research Group and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. What We Eat in America, NHANES 2011-2012, individuals 2 years and over (excluding breast-fed children), day 1. www.ars.usda.gov/nea/bhnrc/fsrg. Accessed June 13, 2016.

      Results

      Magnitude of Nutrient Loss in the US Food Supply

      Table 3 shows the nutritional value embedded in the retail and consumer level waste of 213 commodities in the US food supply during 2012. Wasted food at the retail and consumer levels contained an average of 1,217 kcal, 146 g carbohydrates, 33 g protein, 57 g total fat, 5.9 g dietary fiber, 1.7 μg vitamin D, 286 mg calcium, and 880 mg potassium per capita per day. Quantities for additional wasted nutrients are shown in Table 3. Nutrients such as trans fats, for which data were not consistently available for all commodities, are not reported.
      Table 3Magnitude of daily per capita nutrient loss of 213 commodities at the retail and consumer levels of the US food supply in 2012
      NutrientNutrient loss
      Energy, macronutrients, and fiber
      Energy (kcal)1,216.5
      Carbohydrates (g)146.4
      Protein (g)32.8
      Total fat (g)57.2
      Saturated fat (g)18.1
      Monounsaturated fat (g)18.6
      Polyunsaturated fat (g)16.9
      Cholesterol (mg)137.7
      Dietary fiber (g)
      Underconsumed nutrients.
      Nutrients of public health concern.
      5.9
      Minerals
      Calcium (mg)
      Underconsumed nutrients.
      Nutrients of public health concern.
      286.1
      Iron (mg)
      Underconsumed nutrients.
      5.3
      Magnesium (mg)
      Underconsumed nutrients.
      85.0
      Phosphorus (mg)450.3
      Potassium (mg)
      Underconsumed nutrients.
      Nutrients of public health concern.
      880.2
      Sodium (mg)264.2
      Zinc (mg)3.9
      Vitamins
      Vitamin A (μg)
      Underconsumed nutrients.
      Retinol activity equivalents.
      308.3
      Thiamin (mg)0.9
      Riboflavin (mg)0.8
      Niacin (mg)9.0
      Vitamin B-6 (mg)0.6
      Folate (μg)268.5
      Vitamin B-12 (μg)1.5
      Vitamin C (mg)
      Underconsumed nutrients.
      35.4
      Vitamin D (μg)
      Underconsumed nutrients.
      Nutrients of public health concern.
      1.7
      Vitamin E (mg)3.6
      Vitamin K (μg)79.2
      a Underconsumed nutrients.
      b Nutrients of public health concern.
      c Retinol activity equivalents.
      Table 4 (available online at www.jandonline.org) presents the percentage contribution from the retail and the consumer levels. For all nutrients presented except polyunsaturated fat and vitamin K, the majority of loss occurred at the consumer level.
      Tables 5, 6, and 7 (all available online at www.jandonline.org) show the percentage contribution of nutrient loss from various food groups, illustrating that some food groups contributed an especially large proportion of wasted nutrients. For example, retail- and consumer-level waste of meat, poultry, and fish accounted for a substantial portion of the loss of vitamin B-12 (50% of the total loss), zinc (47%), protein (46%), niacin (42%), vitamin B-6 (42%), and cholesterol (40%). Added fats and oils accounted for 63% of the loss of vitamin E across the food supply. Looking to nutrients of public health concern, loss of dietary fiber was due primarily to waste of grains (39%), vegetables (34%), and fruits (22%). Loss of calcium was due primarily to waste of dairy (72%) and, to a lesser extent, vegetables (10%). Loss of vitamin D was accounted for primarily by waste of dairy (53%); meat, poultry, and fish (27%); and eggs (15%).

      Comparison of Nutrient Loss to Gaps in Dietary Intake

      For macronutrients, underconsumed nutrients, and nutrients of public health concern, the amount of nutrient loss from Table 3 is contextualized in Table 8 as the equivalent number of adult women and men for whom the gap between actual and recommended intakes could be filled and the recommended intakes (eg, RDA or AI) could be provided. Similar estimates are provided for an additional 14 nutrients in Table 9 (available online at www.jandonline.org). These estimates are provided for context, recognizing that not all wasted food can feasibly be recovered for human consumption. To use dietary fiber as an example, on an average day in 2012, waste of 213 commodities at the retail and consumer levels contained 5.9 g dietary fiber per capita, equivalent to upward of 1.8 billion g dietary fiber across the 2012 US population (not shown in Table 8). Adult women and men in 2012 consumed an average of 8.9 and 17.7 g less than the recommended intake of dietary fiber per day, respectively; 1.8 billion g dietary fiber equals the gap between actual and recommended intakes for upward of 206.6 million adult women or 103.9 million adult men. Alternatively, 1.8 billion g dietary fiber is equivalent to the full RDA for dietary fiber for 73.6 million adult women or 48.4 adult men each day, equivalent to 27% of the US adult population, taking the average of the proportions for women and men, as shown in Figure 2. Table 10 (available online at www.jandonline.org) provides supporting information for Figure 2, including additional nutrients, the proportions for women and men separately, and the contributions from the retail and consumer levels separately.
      Table 8Comparison of daily population-level nutrient loss of 213 commodities at the retail and consumer levels of the US food supply in 2012 with recommended and current intakes: energy, macronutrients, and underconsumed nutrients
      Table 8 expresses the results from Table 3 in relation to the gap between current and recommended intakes.
      NutrientRecommended and Current IntakesEquivalence to Wasted Food
      Recommended intake (RDA
      RDA=Recommended Dietary Allowance.
      or AI
      AI=Adequate Intake.
      , age 19-30 y)
      Mean current intake (age ≥20 y)Average gap in dietary intake for adults
      Gap in dietary intake is recommended intake–mean current intake.
      Equivalent number of gaps in dietary intake (millions of adults)
      Millions of adults equivalent to the gap in dietary intake was calculated as the daily loss per population divided by the gap in dietary intake. The daily loss per population was calculated as the daily loss per capita (from Table 3) multiplied by the size of total US population on July 1, 2012 (ie, 313,914,040).
      Equivalent number of recommended intakes (millions of adults)
      Millions of adults equivalent to the recommended intake was calculated as the daily loss per population divided by the recommended intake.
      Adult women
      Energy (kcal)
      For energy, 2,000 kcal/day was used instead of an estimated energy requirement based on age, sex, height, and weight.
      2,000.01,765.0
      Cells with no values indicate either that there was no RDA for this nutrient, or that the gap between current and recommended intakes was not calculated because mean current intake exceeded the recommended intake.
      190.9
      Carbohydrates (g)130.0221.0353.4
      Protein (g)46.067.1223.7
      Total fat (g)66.4
      Dietary fiber (g)
      Underconsumed nutrients.
      Nutrients of public health concern.
      25.016.1–8.9206.673.6
      Calcium (mg)
      Underconsumed nutrients.
      Nutrients of public health concern.
      1,000.0868.0–132.0680.389.8
      Iron (mg)
      Underconsumed nutrients.
      18.013.6–4.4379.092.6
      Magnesium (mg)
      Underconsumed nutrients.
      310.0274.0–36.0740.886.0
      Potassium (mg)
      Underconsumed nutrients.
      Nutrients of public health concern.
      4,700.02,412.0–2,288.0120.758.8
      Vitamin A (μg)
      Underconsumed nutrients.
      700.0603.0–97.0997.7138.3
      Vitaimin C (mg)
      Underconsumed nutrients.
      75.077.8148.0
      Vitamin D (μg)
      Underconsumed nutrients.
      Nutrients of public health concern.
      15.03.9–11.149.436.6
      Vitamin E (mg)
      Underconsumed nutrients.
      15.07.7–7.3155.975.9
      Adult men
      Energy (kcal)
      Gap in dietary intake is recommended intake–mean current intake.
      2,000.02514.0190.9
      Carbohydrates (g)130.0297.0353.4
      Protein (g)56.098.4183.7
      Total fat (g)94.5
      Dietary fiber (g)
      Underconsumed nutrients.
      Nutrients of public health concern.
      38.020.3–17.7103.948.4
      Calcium (mg)
      Underconsumed nutrients.
      Nutrients of public health concern.
      1,000.01,116.089.8
      Iron (mg)
      Underconsumed nutrients.
      8.018.1208.5
      Magnesium (mg)
      Underconsumed nutrients.
      400.0356.0–44.0606.166.7
      Potassium (mg)
      Underconsumed nutrients.
      Nutrients of public health concern.
      4,700.03,195.0–1,505.0183.658.8
      Vitamin A (μg)
      Underconsumed nutrients.
      900.0749.0–151.0640.9107.5
      Vitamin C (mg)
      Underconsumed nutrients.
      90.092.1123.4
      Vitamin D (μg)
      Underconsumed nutrients.
      Nutrients of public health concern.
      15.05.5–9.557.836.6
      Vitamin E (mg)
      Underconsumed nutrients.
      15.010.3–4.7242.175.9
      a Table 8 expresses the results from Table 3 in relation to the gap between current and recommended intakes.
      b RDA=Recommended Dietary Allowance.
      c AI=Adequate Intake.
      d Gap in dietary intake is recommended intake–mean current intake.
      e Millions of adults equivalent to the gap in dietary intake was calculated as the daily loss per population divided by the gap in dietary intake. The daily loss per population was calculated as the daily loss per capita (from Table 3) multiplied by the size of total US population on July 1, 2012 (ie, 313,914,040).
      f Millions of adults equivalent to the recommended intake was calculated as the daily loss per population divided by the recommended intake.
      g For energy, 2,000 kcal/day was used instead of an estimated energy requirement based on age, sex, height, and weight.
      h Cells with no values indicate either that there was no RDA for this nutrient, or that the gap between current and recommended intakes was not calculated because mean current intake exceeded the recommended intake.
      i Underconsumed nutrients.
      j Nutrients of public health concern.
      Figure thumbnail gr2
      Figure 2Equivalent number of recommended intakes embedded in daily population-level nutrient loss in the US food supply in 2012, expressed as a percentage of the 2012 US adult population (age 20 years and older). aExample interpretation: In 2012, the amount of iron embedded in food wasted at the retail and consumer levels each day (per population) was equivalent to the Recommended Dietary Allowance for iron for 92 million adult women (age 19 to 30 years) or 208 million adult men (age 19 to 30 years), which averages to 150 million adults, which was 66% of the adult population. bThe US adult population on July 1, 2012, was 226,456,000 people.

      US Census Bureau, Population Division. Table 1. Monthly Population Estimates for the United States: April 1, 2010 to November 1, 2013 (NA-EST2012-01). http://www.census.gov/data/tables/2016/demo/popest/nation-total.html. Accessed June 6, 2016.

      (NOTE: Information from this figure is available online at www.jandonline.org as part of a PowerPoint presentation.)
      For underconsumed nutrients, Figure 3 depicts the amount of loss in terms of the percentage of recommended intake. For example, waste of 213 commodities at the retail and consumer levels in 2012 contained dietary fiber (5.9 g per capita per day) equivalent to 23% of the RDA for women or 15% of the RDA for men, averaging to 19%. Table 11 (available online at www.jandonline.org) provides supporting information for Figure 3, including additional nutrients, the proportions for women and men separately, and the contributions from the retail and consumer levels separately.
      Figure thumbnail gr3
      Figure 3Amount of nutrient loss per capita per day in the US food supply in 2012, expressed as a percentage of the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) or Adequate Intake (AI) for each nutrient for adults ages 19 to 30 years. aExample interpretation: Food wasted at the retail and consumers levels each day in 2012 contained an amount of calcium equivalent to 29% of the calcium RDA for adult women and men (age 19 to 30 years). Twenty-nine percent represents the average between the equivalent percentage of the adult women’s RDA and the equivalent percentage of the adult men’s RDA. bThe RDA for iron differs greatly between men and women; daily per capita iron loss in the US food supply is equivalent to 30% of the adult women’s RDA and 66% of the adult men’s RDA, which averages to 48%. For other nutrients shown, differences between the RDA for men and women were not as large. (NOTE: Information from this figure is available online at www.jandonline.org as part of a PowerPoint presentation.)
      Table 12 (available online at www.jandonline.org) shows the results of the calculations to estimate the nutritional value that could be recovered if the United States were to achieve the potential for food recovery suggested by ReFED’s analysis. If food were recovered in the same proportions as it were wasted, scaling up the top seven most cost-effective food recovery activities over the next 10 years (resulting in recovering 1.75% of food currently wasted), this would translate into 2,000 kcal per day for 3.3 million adults. Looking to nutrients of public health concern, at this rate the recovered food would be equivalent to the calcium RDA for 1.6 million adult women or men, the potassium RDA for 1.0 million adult women or men, the dietary fiber RDA for 1.3 million adult women or 0.8 million adult men, and the vitamin D RDA for 0.6 million adult women or men. If some food recovery interventions were included that were not highly cost-effective, the estimated maximum recoverable amount of food (9.21% of food currently wasted) would translate into 2,000 kcal per day for 17.6 million adults.

      Discussion

      US landfills represent vast repositories of lost nutrition. In 2012, enough food was discarded at the retail and consumer levels alone to provide 2,000 kcal per day to 84% of the US adult population. Reducing waste of food may be particularly beneficial for the availability of nutrients currently underconsumed in the United States. Although only a portion of this nutritional value can be recovered for human consumption, the magnitude of loss and the associated lost money and resources mean there is great opportunity in focusing on that effort. Quantifying the loss can motivate related investments and support the case for engagement by registered dietitian nutritionists with these efforts. The estimates can also serve as a baseline for tracking the influence of interventions.
      The DGA emphasize the benefit of a whole-diet perspective for promoting good eating patterns, rather than focusing too heavily on component nutrients.

      US Departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture. 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 8th ed. https://health.gov/DietaryGuidelines/. Accessed June 6, 2016.

      Yet, underlying the desirability of some dietary patterns over others is the ability to obtain a variety of nutrients in sufficient quantities. By breaking down wasted foods into their nutritional components, findings can be better compared to specific nutrient requirements. Losses of underconsumed nutrients were striking. For example, at the retail and consumer levels alone, discarded food contained enough dietary fiber to fill the gap between actual and recommended intake for 206.6 million women or 103.9 million men. Adequate fiber intake is inversely associated with chronic disease, and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends consuming fiber in its food form (as opposed to dietary supplements),
      • Dahl W.J.
      • Stewart M.L.
      Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Health implications of dietary fiber.
      which reinforces the importance of preventing waste of the food sources of nutrients.
      Perishable foods such as fruits and vegetables are lost at particularly high rates, leading to exceptional losses of underconsumed nutrients. More broadly, there was considerable variation in the food groups contributing to losses for each nutrient. For example, for vitamin D, dairy was the greatest contributor, whereas for fiber it was grains, vegetables, and fruit, and for vitamin E it was fats and oils.
      For all nutrients presented except polyunsaturated fat and vitamin K, losses were estimated to be higher at the consumer level than the retail level, potentially reflecting food perishability over time, among other factors. The substantial amount of nutrient loss at the consumer level points to the need for interventions targeted toward consumers. ReFED highlighted two consumer oriented interventions— standardized date labeling and consumer education—as being particularly cost effective.

      Rethink Food Waste Through Economics and Data (ReFED). A roadmap to reduce US Food Waste by 20%. http://www.refed.com/download. Accessed June 6, 2016.

      In the United Kingdom, a broad suite of interventions including policy, retailers, and consumer behavior change communication contributed to a 21% reduction in household food waste between 2007 and 2012.

      Quested T, Ingle R, Parry A. Household food and drink waste in the United Kingdom 2012. http://www.wrap.org.uk/content/household-food-and-drink-waste-uk-2012. Accessed June 6, 2016.

      Specific strategies to reduce food waste in the household have been described elsewhere.
      • Gunders D.
      Waste-Free Kitchen Handbook: A Guide to Eating Well and Saving Money By Wasting Less Food.
      These findings should not be interpreted as implying that all lost nutrient content could be recovered and fed to people, nor that the food that could be feasibly recovered would necessarily result in a palatable or nutritious diet. Some food will inevitably be discarded. Food safety concerns are paramount, and protecting food safety can mean setting stringent standards that err on the discard side. In addition, some logistical challenges of perishability, transportation, storage, and timing cannot be addressed in a cost-effective manner. Only a portion of waste can be prevented through retail and restaurant strategies such as improved prediction of consumer demand, or food packages and portion sizes targeted to consumption patterns and nutrition needs. Cultural shifts are also needed, although they cannot eliminate all waste. These include changing consumer preferences for aesthetically perfect produce, and making it acceptable for stores, restaurants, and homes to occasionally run out of items rather than always providing food in abundance. In addition, food that reaches the consumer level generally cannot be recovered unless it is nonperishable and remains in sealed packaging. Finally, not all food meets standards of quality or social acceptability for human consumption. The Environmental Protection Agency Food Recovery Hierarchy indicates three uses for such food that are superior to landfilling: feeding animals, industrial uses, and composting.

      US Environmental Protection Agency. Food recovery hierarchy. https://www.epa.gov/sustainable-management-food. Accessed July 27, 2016.

      Regarding food items that may be perceived as lesser value—such as misshapen or damaged produce, socially undesirable food products, food in damaged packaging, and food that is older but still safe—consuming these foods and purchasing them at discount prices may become more normalized as food waste interventions spread, thereby reducing stigma and increasing use of such foods across the population. Efforts to enhance food recovery should incorporate ethical considerations regarding cultural preferences and foodways, measures of perceived and objective quality, and product diversity.
      These findings demonstrate that even if only an additional 1.75% of wasted food were recovered for human consumption (based on ReFED’s estimate), substantial nutritional value would be made available. According to ReFED, the three most cost-effective measures for increasing food recovery are donation tax incentives, standardized donation regulations (eg, local and state food safety laws), and improved donation matching software.

      Rethink Food Waste Through Economics and Data (ReFED). A roadmap to reduce US Food Waste by 20%. http://www.refed.com/download. Accessed June 6, 2016.

      The nature of these measures suggests that improved recovery requires multifaceted efforts from government and industry stakeholders.
      Although recovering surplus food plays an essential mitigation role by filling nutrition gaps while diverting food from landfills, it does not address the root causes of food insecurity, malnutrition, or wasted food. To address food insecurity, it would be preferable to reduce the need for food donations in the first place. To address underconsumption of key nutrients, food recovery may improve affordability, but demand creation remains a critical gap. From a food waste perspective, a more preferable way of reducing the resource loss inherent in waste is to work toward matching production to consumer demand and minimizing surplus and waste in the first place, rather than finding alternate uses for wasted food.

      Comparison to Similar Studies

      The estimate of 1,217 kcal wasted per capita per day in 2012 from this analysis differed by only 3% from the estimate by Buzby and colleagues
      • Buzby J.C.
      • Wells H.F.
      • Hyman J.
      The Estimated Amount, Value, and Calories Of Postharvest Food Losses at the Retail and Consumer Levels in the United States.
      of 1,249 kcal per capita per day in 2010. This discrepancy is likely due to food supply changes and minor methodologic differences; for example, Buzby and colleagues
      • Buzby J.C.
      • Wells H.F.
      • Hyman J.
      The Estimated Amount, Value, and Calories Of Postharvest Food Losses at the Retail and Consumer Levels in the United States.
      calculated caloric value by using food pattern equivalents (previously known as servings), whereas this analysis used weight. A side-by-side comparison of caloric value by food group from both studies is presented in Table 13 (available online at www.jandonline.org).
      Two additional studies did not limit their analyses to the retail and consumer levels, but included the entire food supply chain. The estimate of calories wasted per capita per day from this analysis was 15% lower than the estimate from Hall and colleagues
      • Hall K.D.
      • Guo J.
      • Dore M.
      • Chow C.C.
      The progressive increase of food waste in America and its environmental impact.
      (1,400 kcal), which is to be expected due to this different scope plus major methodologic differences. Love and colleagues
      • Love D.C.
      • Fry J.P.
      • Milli M.C.
      • Neff R.A.
      Wasted seafood in the United States: Quantifying loss from production to consumption and moving toward solutions.
      provided low and high estimates of the per capita per day caloric value of wasted seafood (9.6 to 11.2 kcal [calculation by the authors]), which is 37% to 60% higher than the estimate of 7 kcal from the seafood group from this analysis. Love and colleagues
      • Love D.C.
      • Fry J.P.
      • Milli M.C.
      • Neff R.A.
      Wasted seafood in the United States: Quantifying loss from production to consumption and moving toward solutions.
      also estimated protein losses in seafood waste at 1.8 to 1.9 g per capita per day (calculation by the authors), which is 31% to 37% higher than the estimate of 1.4 g per capita per day from the seafood group from our analysis. The difference may be because Love and colleagues
      • Love D.C.
      • Fry J.P.
      • Milli M.C.
      • Neff R.A.
      Wasted seafood in the United States: Quantifying loss from production to consumption and moving toward solutions.
      included the full seafood supply chain and used multiple data sources specifically intended to avoid underestimation of seafood loss.

      Limitations and Strengths

      This analysis is subject to the limitations of its primary data sources. Limitations in the LAFA data series include underlying loss assumptions that may not be sensitive to changes across time (eg, changes in food processing methods may change the amount of food discarded).

      US Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. Loss-adjusted food availability documentation. https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/food-availability-per-capita-data-system/loss-adjusted-food-availability-documentation/. Accessed June 13, 2016.

      In addition, the LAFA data from 2012 do not include more recent estimates of wholesale and retail loss indicating that fresh fruit and vegetable losses may be 4.3% and 1% higher, respectively.
      • Buzby J.C.
      • Bentley J.T.
      • Padrea B.
      • Campuzano J.
      • Ammon C.
      Updated Supermarket Shrink Estimates for Fresh Foods and Their Implications for ERS Loss-Adjusted Food Availability Data.
      In addition to limitations in the underlying food loss data, there are challenges specific to estimating nutrient loss. Nutrient composition varies within and across food categories, and across cultivars; this analysis was based on 290 SR-28 food codes representing 213 commodity food groups, and was thus unable to capture all foods and cultivars. The selected SR-28 codes generally corresponded to raw foods (eg, raw beans instead of cooked beans), although the actual nutritional value of wasted food may differ according to its state at the time of discard. Another challenge is that food may lose nutritional value as it deteriorates.
      • Gil M.I.
      • Aguayo E.
      • Kader A.A.
      Quality changes and nutrient retention in fresh-cut versus whole fruits during storage.
      Some food waste recovery efforts may involve collecting food that has become less fresh, particularly when the intent is to process the food. That said, food that is wasted is not necessarily inferior; for example, apples with scabs—which may be more likely to be discarded due to aesthetic standards, or to not be harvested at all—may have higher levels of phenolic compounds.
      • Ana S.
      • Maja M.P.
      • Haidrun H.
      • Franci S.
      • Karl S.
      • Robert V.
      Response of the phenylpropanoid pathway to Venturia inaequalis infection in maturing fruit of ‘Braeburn’apple.
      In addition, this analysis did not differentiate between nutrition content of food recovered directly from farms (likely to consist primarily of fruits and vegetables) and food recovered from nonfarm donations (likely to consist of additional food groups). For context, it has been estimated that 27% of recovered food comes from farms.

      Rethink Food Waste Through Economics and Data (ReFED). A roadmap to reduce US Food Waste by 20%. http://www.refed.com/download. Accessed June 6, 2016.

      A limitation of the calculations based on the ReFED analysis is that the ReFED estimates of food recovery potential were based on the entire supply chain, which poses a challenge for comparing the results to estimates of nutrient loss at the retail and consumer levels only. It should be emphasized that these estimates are for illustrative purposes and are not exact projections of the potential for food recovery and its influence on nutrition.
      A key strength of this research is that it presents the first estimate of the loss of a comprehensive set of nutrients across commodities that represent the US food supply. This analysis allows for a nuanced view of nutrient loss, including proportions of loss by food group and by supply chain level. In addition, the research is built on the USDA’s most current estimates of food losses at the retail and consumer levels, which allow for the exclusion of inedible components of food. The codebook was developed based on similar research efforts, for improved comparability to previous studies.
      • Buzby J.C.
      • Wells H.F.
      • Hyman J.
      The Estimated Amount, Value, and Calories Of Postharvest Food Losses at the Retail and Consumer Levels in the United States.
      • Kantor L.S.
      A Dietary Assessment of the US Food Supply: Comparing per Capita Food Consumption with Food Guide Pyramid Serving Recommendations.
      The findings demonstrate consistency with similar studies, with an estimate of caloric waste within 3% of the estimate Buzby and colleagues
      • Buzby J.C.
      • Wells H.F.
      • Hyman J.
      The Estimated Amount, Value, and Calories Of Postharvest Food Losses at the Retail and Consumer Levels in the United States.
      reached using similar methods. This study also placed nutrient loss within the context of underconsumed nutrients and nutrients of public health concern. Researchers have called for better national-level metrics of nutrient quality as a dimension of food security, and this study has broad significance as a demonstration of how the magnitude of nutrient loss can be calculated at a national level.
      • Coates J.
      Build it back better: Deconstructing food security for improved measurement and action.

      Conclusions

      This study is the first to demonstrate the substantial amount of nutrients, including many underconsumed nutrients, wasted due to food discarded at the retail and consumer levels of the US food supply. Although only a portion of discarded food can realistically be made available for human consumption, efforts to redistribute surplus foods where appropriate and prevent food waste in the first place could increase the availability of nutrients for Americans while saving money and natural resources. The United States has established a target of halving food loss and waste by 2030. This research supports the case for action and for registered dietitian nutritionists bringing their expertise to the effort.

      What Is the Current Knowledge on this Topic?

      Although previous research has shown that that 31% to 40% of food in the United States is wasted before it reaches consumers and that this waste contains between 1,249 and 1,400 kcal per capita per day, little is known about the composition of other nutrients embedded in wasted food.

      How Does the Current Research Add to Knowledge on this Topic?

      Food wasted at the retail and consumer levels in the US food supply in 2012 contained 1,217 kcal, 33 g protein, 5.9 g dietary fiber, 1.7 μg vitamin D, 286 mg calcium, and 880 mg potassium per capita per day. Many nutrients that are currently consumed below recommended levels are wasted in substantial amounts.

      How Might this Knowledge Influence Current Dietetics Practice?

      Educational messages about shopping, food preparation, food storage, and portion sizes can incorporate strategies to reduce food waste. For example, recommendations to consume fruits and vegetables can include frozen and canned foods, which are less perishable than fresh produce. Reducing food waste benefits consumers by reducing food costs and minimizing the loss of important nutrients.
      For more information on the subject discussed in this article, see the Sites in Review in this month's New in Review section.

      Acknowledgements

      The authors thank TusaRebecca Schap, PhD, MPH, RD, at the US Department of Agriculture Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion and Shawn McKenzie, MPH, at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future for providing feedback on the manuscript, and Corbin Cunningham for assistance with MATLAB. A Harry D. Kruse Publication Award in Human Nutrition is gratefully acknowledged.

      Supplementary Materials

      Table 1Codebook for commodities in the Loss-Adjusted Food Availability (LAFA) data series and National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 28 (SR-28)
      The table contains the codebook that matches the commodities identified in the LAFA data series to food items in SR-28. The LAFA data series contains estimates of retail and consumer level loss for 213 commodities The LAFA data series contains 215 commodities. This study uses the data from 213 commodities, because two of the commodities (1. white and whole wheat flour and 2. durum flour) duplicate the values contained in the commodity “wheat flour.”
      Commodity, as it appears in the LAFA data seriesSR-28 CodeDescription of SR-28 CodeSource
      This column identifies the following methods of selecting codes:1.This SR-28 code matches the code used by Kantor.282.This SR-28 code matches the code used by Buzby and colleagues1 because Kantor28 did not contain a code for this commodity, or contained a code that was not the closest match to the LAFA commodity, or contained a code that was no longer available in SR-28.3.This SR-28 code was selected by the authors as the closest match to the LAFA commodity because Kantor28 and Buzby and colleagues1 did not contain a code for this commodity.4.This SR-28 code was selected by the authors as the closest match to the LAFA commodity, even though Kantor28 or Buzby and colleagues1 used a different code for this commodity. Reasons for selecting a code that differed from Kantor28 or Buzby and colleagues1 included preferences for certain characteristics such as raw or cooked commodities, or the availability of codes with more comprehensive information on nutrient composition. When calculations from Kantor28 or Buzby and colleagues1 did not contain a code for a commodity, or when that code was not the closest match to the LAFA commodity, the authors used the following general preferences:•Vegetables: Raw options were selected whenever possible, under the assumption that most discarded food at the retail and consumer levels (more so at the retail level) is likely to be raw.•Fruit: Unsweetened options were selected whenever possible. As such, the nutrient totals are likely to underestimate the loss of sugar and carbohydrates.•Fish: Kantor28 and Buzby and colleagues1 used SR-28 codes for cooked fish. In this study, SR-28 codes for cooked fish were used, except when the codes for cooked fish did not contain comprehensive information on nutrient composition; in these cases, when the codes for raw fish contained more comprehensive information, the codes for raw fish were used.
      Dairy (34 commodities)
      Plain whole milk01077Milk, whole, 3.25% milkfat, with added vitamin D1
      Plain 2% milk01079Milk, reduced fat, fluid, 2% milkfat, with added vitamin A and vitamin D1
      Plain 1% milk01082Milk, low-fat, fluid, 1% milkfat, with added vitamin A and vitamin D1
      Skim milk01085Milk, nonfat, fluid, with added vitamin A and vitamin D (fat free or skim)1
      Whole flavored milk01102Milk, chocolate, fluid, commercial, whole, with added vitamin A and vitamin D1
      Low-fat flavored milk, code 101103Milk, chocolate, fluid, commercial, reduced fat, with added vitamin A and vitamin D1
      Low-fat flavored milk, code 201104Milk, chocolate, low-fat, with added vitamin A and vitamin D1
      Buttermilk01088Milk, buttermilk, fluid, cultured, low fat1
      Refrigerated yogurt, code 101116Yogurt, plain, whole milk, 8 g protein per 8 oz1
      Refrigerated yogurt, code 201118Yogurt, plain, skim milk, 13 g protein per 8 oz1
      Cheddar cheese01009Cheese, Cheddar1
      Other American cheese, code 101011Cheese, Colby1
      Other American cheese, code 201025Cheese, Monterey1
      Provolone cheese01035Cheese, provolone1
      Romano cheese01038Cheese, Romano1
      Parmesan cheese01032Cheese, Parmesan, grated1
      Mozzarella cheese, code 101026Cheese, mozzarella, whole milk1
      Mozzarella cheese, code 201027Cheese, mozzarella, whole milk, low moisture1
      Mozzarella cheese, code 301028Cheese, mozzarella, part-skim milk1
      Mozzarella cheese, code 401029Cheese, mozzarella, low moisture, part-skim1
      Ricotta cheese, code 101036Cheese, ricotta, whole milk1
      Ricotta cheese, code 201037Cheese, ricotta, part-skim milk1
      Other Italian cheese, code 101035Cheese, provolone1
      Other Italian cheese, code 201038Cheese, Romano1
      Other Italian cheese, code 301032Cheese, parmesan, grated1
      Other Italian cheese, code 401026Cheese, mozzarella, whole milk1
      Other Italian cheese, code 501027Cheese, mozzarella, whole milk, low moisture1
      Other Italian cheese, code 601028Cheese, mozzarella, part skim milk1
      Other Italian cheese, code 701029Cheese, mozzarella, low moisture, part-skim1
      Other Italian cheese, code 801036Cheese, ricotta, whole milk1
      Other Italian cheese, code 901037Cheese, ricotta, part-skim milk1
      Swiss cheese01040Cheese, Swiss1
      Brick cheese01005Cheese, brick1
      Muenster cheese01030Cheese, Muenster1
      Blue cheese01004Cheese, blue1
      Other miscellaneous cheese, code 101040Cheese, Swiss1
      Other miscellaneous cheese, code 201005Cheese, brick1
      Other miscellaneous cheese, code 301030Cheese, Muenster1
      Other miscellaneous cheese, code 401004Cheese, blue1
      Regular cottage cheese01015Cheese, cottage, low-fat, 2% milkfat1
      Low-fat cottage cheese01016Cheese, cottage, low-fat, 1% milkfat1
      Regular ice cream19095Ice creams, vanilla1
      Low-fat ice cream (ice milk)19088Ice creams, vanilla, light1
      Frozen yogurt and other miscellaneous frozen products19293Frozen yogurt, vanilla, soft-serve1
      Evaporated and condensed canned whole milk01096Milk, canned, evaporated, with added vitamin D and without added vitamin A1
      Evaporated and condensed bulk whole milk01096Milk, canned, evaporated, with added vitamin D and without added vitamin A1
      Evaporated and condensed bulk and canned skim milk01097Milk, canned, evaporated, nonfat, with added vitamin A and vitamin D1
      Dry whole milk01090Milk, dry, whole, with added vitamin D1
      Nonfat dry milk01091Milk, dry, nonfat, regular, without added vitamin A and vitamin D1
      Dry buttermilk01094Milk, buttermilk, dried1
      Dairy share of half and half
      The most recent data were from before 2012. In most of these cases, the most recent data were from 2010.
      01049Cream, fluid, half and half1
      Dairy share of eggnog01057Eggnog1
      Fat (13 commodities)
      Butter, code 101001Butter, salted3
      Butter, code 201145Butter, without salt3
      Margarine, code 1
      The most recent data were from before 2012. In most of these cases, the most recent data were from 2010.
      04610Margarine, regular, 80% fat, composite, stick, with salt3
      Margarine, code 2
      The most recent data were from before 2012. In most of these cases, the most recent data were from 2010.
      04618Margarine, regular, 80% fat, composite, tub, without salt3
      Lard
      The most recent data were from before 2012. In most of these cases, the most recent data were from 2010.
      04002Lard3
      Edible beef tallow
      The most recent data were from before 2012. In most of these cases, the most recent data were from 2010.
      04001Fat, beef tallow3
      Shortening
      The most recent data were from before 2012. In most of these cases, the most recent data were from 2010.
      04544Shortening, household, lard and vegetable oil3
      Salad and cooking oils
      The most recent data were from before 2012. In most of these cases, the most recent data were from 2010.
      4044Oil, soybean, salad or cooking3
      Other edible fats and oils, code 1
      The most recent data were from before 2012. In most of these cases, the most recent data were from 2010.
      01001Butter, salted3
      Other edible fats and oils, code 2
      The most recent data were from before 2012. In most of these cases, the most recent data were from 2010.
      01145Butter, without salt3
      Other edible fats and oils, code 3
      The most recent data were from before 2012. In most of these cases, the most recent data were from 2010.
      04610Margarine, regular, 80% fat, composite, stick, with salt3
      Other edible fats and oils, code 4
      The most recent data were from before 2012. In most of these cases, the most recent data were from 2010.
      04618Margarine, regular, 80% fat, composite, tub, without salt3
      Other edible fats and oils, code 5
      The most recent data were from before 2012. In most of these cases, the most recent data were from 2010.
      04002Lard3
      Other edible fats and oils, code 6
      The most recent data were from before 2012. In most of these cases, the most recent data were from 2010.
      04001Fat, beef tallow3
      Other edible fats and oils, code 7
      The most recent data were from before 2012. In most of these cases, the most recent data were from 2010.
      04544Shortening, household, lard and vegetable oil3
      Other edible fats and oils, code 8
      The most recent data were from before 2012. In most of these cases, the most recent data were from 2010.
      04044Oil, soybean, salad or cooking3
      Fat share of half and half
      The most recent data were from before 2012. In most of these cases, the most recent data were from 2010.
      01049Cream, fluid, half and half1
      Light cream01050Cream, fluid, light (coffee cream or table cream)1
      Heavy cream
      The most recent data were from before 2012. In most of these cases, the most recent data were from 2010.
      01053Cream, fluid, heavy whipping1
      Sour cream, code 101055Cream, sour, reduced fat, cultured1
      Sour cream, code 201056Cream, sour, cultured1
      Cream cheese, code 101031Cheese, neufchatel4
      Cream cheese, code 201017Cheese, cream4
      Fat share of eggnog01057Eggnog1
      Fruits (62 commodities)
      Fresh oranges09200Oranges, raw, all commercial varieties1
      Fresh tangerines09218Tangerines (mandarin), raw1
      Fresh grapefruit09111Grapefruit, raw, pink and red and white, all areas1
      Fresh lemons09150Lemons, raw, without peel1
      Fresh limes09159Limes, raw1
      Fresh apples09003Apples, raw, with skin1
      Fresh apricots09021Apricots, raw1
      Fresh avocados09037Avocados, raw, all commercial varieties1
      Fresh bananas09040Bananas, raw1
      Fresh blueberries09050Blueberries, raw2
      Fresh cantaloupe09181Melons, cantaloupe, raw1
      Fresh cherries09070Cherries, sweet, raw1
      Fresh cranberries09078Cranberries, raw1
      Fresh grapes09131Grapes, American type (slip skin), raw1
      Fresh honeydew09184Melons, honeydew, raw1
      Fresh kiwifruit09148Kiwifruit, green, raw2
      Fresh mangoes09176Mangoes, raw1
      Fresh papaya09226Papayas, raw1
      Fresh peaches09236Peaches, raw4
      Fresh pears09252Pears, raw1
      Fresh pineapple09266Pineapple, raw, all varieties1
      Fresh plums09279Plums, raw1
      Fresh raspberries09302Raspberries, raw2
      Fresh strawberries09316Strawberries, raw1
      Fresh watermelon09326Watermelon, raw1
      Canned apples and applesauce09019Applesauce, canned, unsweetened, without added ascorbic acid (includes US Department of Agriculture commodity)2
      Canned apricots09023Apricots, canned, water pack, without skin, solids and liquids4
      Canned sweet cherries09071Cherries, sweet, canned, water pack, solids and liquids1
      Canned tart cherries09064Cherries, sour, red, canned, water pack, solids and liquids (includes US Department of Agriculture commodity red tart cherries, canned)1
      Canned peaches09237Peaches, canned, water pack, solids and liquids2
      Canned pears09253Pears, canned, water pack, solids and liquids1
      Canned pineapple09267Pineapple, canned, water pack, solids and liquids1
      Canned plums09281Plums, canned, purple, water pack, solids and liquids1
      Canned olives09193Olives, ripe, canned (small through extra large)2
      Frozen blackberries09048Blackberries, frozen, unsweetened1
      Frozen blueberries09054Blueberries, frozen, unsweetened1
      Frozen raspberries09518Raspberries, frozen, unsweetened4
      Frozen strawberries09318Strawberries, frozen, unsweetened1
      Frozen other berries09048Blackberries, frozen, unsweetened2
      Frozen apples09014Apples, frozen, unsweetened, unheated1
      Frozen apricots09035Apricots, frozen, sweetened4
      Frozen sweet cherries09076Cherries, sweet, frozen, sweetened2
      Frozen tart cherries09068Cherries, sour, red, frozen, unsweetened1
      Frozen peaches09250Peaches, frozen, sliced, sweetened4
      Frozen plums and prunes09014Apples, frozen, unsweetened, unheated1
      Dried apples09011Apples, dried, sulfured, uncooked1
      Dried apricots09032Apricots, dried, sulfured, uncooked1
      Dried dates09087Dates, deglet noor1
      Dried figs09094Figs, dried, uncooked1
      Dried peaches09246Peaches, dried, sulfured, uncooked1
      Dried pears09259Pears, dried, sulfured, uncooked1
      Dried plums09291Plums, dried (prunes), uncooked1
      Raisins09298Raisins, seedless1
      Grapefruit juice09112Grapefruit juice, raw, pink and red, all areas4
      Lemon juice09152Lemon juice, raw2
      Lime juice09160Lime juice, raw2
      Orange juice09206Orange juice, raw4
      Apple juice09016Apple juice, canned or bottled, unsweetened, without added ascorbic acid1
      Cranberry juice43382Cranberry juice, unsweetened2
      Grape juice09135Grape juice, canned or bottled, unsweetened, without added ascorbic acid1
      Pineapple juice09273Pineapple juice, canned or bottled, unsweetened, without added ascorbic acid1
      Prune juice09294Prune juice, canned1
      Grains (8 commodities)
      Wheat flour20081Wheat flour, white, all-purpose, enriched, bleached2
      Rice, code 1
      The most recent data were from before 2012. In most of these cases, the most recent data were from 2010.
      20044Rice, white, long-grain, regular, raw, enriched1
      Rice, code 2
      The most recent data were from before 2012. In most of these cases, the most recent data were from 2010.
      20050Rice, white, medium-grain, raw, enriched1
      Rice, code 3
      The most recent data were from before 2012. In most of these cases, the most recent data were from 2010.
      20052Rice, white, short-grain, enriched, uncooked1
      Rye flour20064Rye flour, medium1
      Corn flour and meal, code 120022Cornmeal, degermed, enriched, yellow1
      Corn flour and meal, code 220016Corn flour, whole-grain, yellow1
      Corn flour and meal, code 320017Corn flour, masa, enriched, white1
      Corn flour and meal, code 420018Corn flour, yellow, degermed, unenriched1
      Corn flour and meal, code 520020Cornmeal, whole-grain, yellow1
      Corn hominy and grits08159Cereals, corn grits, yellow, regular and quick, enriched, dry1
      Corn starch20027Cornstarch1
      Barley products20005Barley, pearled, raw1
      Oat products08120Cereals, oats, regular and quick, not fortified, dry1
      Meat (24 commodities)
      Beef13796Beef, composite of trimmed retail cuts, separable lean and fat, trimmed to 1/8-in fat, all grades, cooked2
      Veal17089Veal, composite of trimmed retail cuts, separable lean and fat, cooked1
      Pork10188Pork, fresh, composite of trimmed retail cuts (leg, loin, shoulder, and spareribs), separable lean and fat, cooked1
      Lamb17002Lamb, domestic, composite of trimmed retail cuts, separable lean and fat, trimmed to 1/4-in fat, choice, cooked1
      Chicken05004Chicken, broilers or fryers, meat and skin and giblets and neck, roasted1
      Turkey05166Turkey, whole, meat and skin, cooked, roasted2
      Fresh and frozen fish, code 115008Fish, carp, raw4
      Fresh and frozen fish, code 215016Fish, cod, Atlantic, cooked, dry heat1
      Fresh and frozen fish, code 315029Fish, flatfish (flounder and sole species), cooked, dry heat1
      Fresh and frozen fish, code 415032Fish, grouper, mixed species, cooked, dry heat1
      Fresh and frozen fish, code 515034Fish, haddock, cooked, dry heat1
      Fresh and frozen fish, code 615037Fish, halibut, Atlantic and Pacific, cooked, dry heat1
      Fresh and frozen fish, code 715060Fish, perch, mixed species, raw4
      Fresh and frozen fish, code 815062Fish, pike, northern, raw4
      Fresh and frozen fish, code 915067Fish, pollock, Alaska, cooked, dry heat (may have been previously frozen)1
      Fresh and frozen fish, code 1015086Fish, salmon, Sockeye, cooked, dry heat1
      Fresh and frozen fish, code 1115091Fish, sea bass, mixed species, raw4
      Fresh and frozen fish, code 1215101Fish, snapper, mixed species, raw4
      Fresh and frozen fish, code 1315241Fish, trout, rainbow, farmed, cooked, dry heat4
      Fresh and frozen fish, code 1415118Fish, tuna, fresh, bluefin, cooked, dry heat4
      Fresh and frozen fish, code 1515133Fish, whiting, mixed species, cooked, dry heat1
      Fresh and frozen shellfish15146Crustaceans, crayfish, mixed species, wild, cooked, moist heat4
      Canned salmon15260Fish, salmon, pink, canned, drained solids4
      Canned sardines, code 115088Fish, sardine, Atlantic, canned in oil, drained solids with bone4
      Canned sardines, code 215089Fish, sardine, Pacific, canned in tomato sauce, drained solids with bone4
      Canned tuna15121Fish, tuna, light, canned in water, drained solids4
      Canned shellfish15152Crustaceans, shrimp, mixed species, canned4
      Other canned fish15017Fish, cod, Atlantic, canned, solids and liquid1
      Cured fish15077Fish, salmon, Chinook, smoked4
      Eggs01129Egg, whole, cooked, hard-boiled1
      Peanuts16087Peanuts, all types, raw1
      Almonds12061Nuts, almonds1
      Hazelnuts (filberts)12120Nuts, hazelnuts or filberts1
      Pecans12142Nuts, pecans1
      Walnuts12155Nuts, walnuts, english1
      Macademia nuts12131Nuts, macadamia nuts, raw1
      Pistachio nuts12151Nuts, pistachio nuts, raw1
      Other tree nuts, code 112078Nuts, brazilnuts, dried, unblanched1
      Other tree nuts, code 212147Nuts, pine nuts, dried1
      Other tree nuts, code 312085Nuts, cashew nuts, dry roasted, without salt added1
      Coconut12108Nuts, coconut meat, dried (desiccated), not sweetened1
      Sugar (6 commodities)
      Cane and beet sugar19335Sugars, granulated3
      High fructose corn sweetener19351Syrups, corn, high-fructose3
      Glucose19335Sugars, granulated3
      Dextrose19335Sugars, granulated3
      Honey19296Honey3
      Edible syrups, code 119355Syrups, sorghum3
      Edible syrups, code 219353Syrups, maple3
      Edible syrups, code 319304Molasses3
      Edible syrups, code 419362Syrups, table blends, corn, refiner, and sugar3
      Vegetables (66 commodities)
      Fresh artichokes11007Artichokes, (globe or french), raw2
      Fresh asparagus11011Asparagus, cooked, raw2
      Fresh bell peppers11333Peppers, sweet, green, raw1
      Fresh broccoli11090Broccoli, raw1
      Fresh Brussels sprouts11098Brussels sprouts, raw2
      Fresh cabbage11109Cabbage, raw1
      Fresh carrots11124Carrots, raw1
      Fresh cauliflower11135Cauliflower, raw1
      Fresh celery11143Celery, raw1
      Fresh collard greens11161Collards, raw2
      Fresh sweet corn11167Corn, sweet, yellow, raw2
      Fresh cucumbers11206Cucumber, peeled, raw1
      Fresh eggplant11209Eggplant, raw2
      Fresh escarole and endive11213Endive, raw1
      Fresh garlic11215Garlic, raw1
      Fresh kale11223Kale, raw4
      Fresh head lettuce, code 111252Lettuce, iceberg (includes crisphead types), raw1
      Fresh head lettuce, code 211250Lettuce, butterhead (includes Boston and bibb types), raw1
      Fresh Romaine and leaf lettuce, code 111251Lettuce, cos or romaine, raw1
      Fresh Romaine and leaf lettuce, code 211253Lettuce, green leaf, raw1
      Fresh lima beans11031Lima beans, immature seeds, raw2
      Fresh mushrooms11260Mushrooms, white, raw1
      Fresh mustard greens11270Mustard greens, raw2
      Fresh okra11278Okra, raw2
      Fresh onions11282Onions, raw2
      Fresh potatoes, code 111363Potatoes, baked, flesh, without salt1
      Fresh potatoes, code 211367Potatoes, boiled, cooked without skin, flesh, without salt1
      Fresh pumpkin11422Pumpkin, raw1
      Fresh radishes11429Radishes, raw1
      Fresh snap beans11052Beans, snap, green, raw2
      Fresh spinach11457Spinach, raw1
      Fresh squash11641Squash, summer, all varieties, raw2
      Fresh sweet potatoes11507Sweet potato, raw, unprepared4
      Fresh tomatoes11529Tomatoes, red, ripe, raw, year-round average1
      Fresh turnip greens11568Turnip greens, raw2
      Canned asparagus11015Asparagus, canned, drained solids1
      Canned snap beans11056Beans, snap, green, canned, regular pack, drained solids1
      Canned cabbage (sauerkraut)11439Sauerkraut, canned, solids and liquids1
      Canned carrots11128Carrots, canned, regular pack, drained solids1
      Canned sweet corn11172Corn, sweet, yellow, canned, whole kernel, drained solids1
      Canned cucumbers (pickles), code 111941Pickles, cucumber, sour1
      Canned cucumbers (pickles), code 211940Pickles, cucumber, sweet (includes bread and butter pickles)1
      Canned green peas11308Peas, green (includes baby and Le Suer types), canned, drained solids, unprepared1
      Canned mushrooms11264Mushrooms, canned, drained solids1
      Canned chile peppers11329Peppers, hot chili, green, canned, pods, excluding seeds, solids and liquids1
      Canned potatoes43311Potatoes, canned, drained solids, no salt added4
      Canned tomatoes11531Tomatoes, red, ripe, canned, packed in tomato juice2
      Other canned vegetables, code 111084Beets, canned, drained solids1
      Other canned vegetables, code 211461Spinach, canned, regular pack, drained solids1
      Frozen asparagus11019Asparagus, frozen, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt2
      Frozen snap beans11061Beans, snap, green, frozen, cooked, boiled, drained without salt1
      Frozen broccoli11093Broccoli, frozen, chopped, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt1
      Frozen carrots11131Carrots, frozen, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt1
      Frozen cauliflower11138Cauliflower, frozen, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt1
      Frozen sweet corn11179Corn, sweet, yellow, frozen, kernels cut off cob, boiled, drained, without salt1
      Frozen green peas11313Peas, green, frozen, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt1
      Frozen lima beans11040Lima beans, immature seeds, frozen, baby, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt2
      Frozen potatoes11400Potatoes, frozen, whole, unprepared2
      Frozen spinach11464Spinach, frozen, chopped or leaf, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt2
      Miscellaneous frozen vegetables, code 111038Lima beans, immature seeds, frozen, Fordhook, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt1
      Miscellaneous frozen vegetables, code 211164Collards, frozen, chopped, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt1
      Miscellaneous frozen vegetables, code 311196Cowpeas (blackeyes), immature seeds, frozen, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt1
      Miscellaneous frozen vegetables, code 411273Mustard greens, frozen, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt1
      Miscellaneous frozen vegetables, code 511281Okra, frozen, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt1
      Miscellaneous frozen vegetables, code 611464Spinach, frozen, chopped or leaf, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt1
      Miscellaneous frozen vegetables, code 711474Squash, summer, crookneck and straightneck, frozen, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt1
      Miscellaneous frozen vegetables, code 811567Turnips, frozen, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt1
      Miscellaneous frozen vegetables, code 911575Turnip greens, frozen, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt1
      Miscellaneous frozen vegetables, code 1011791Kale, frozen, cooked, boiled, drained, with salt1
      Miscellaneous frozen vegetables, code 1111486Squash, winter, butternut, cooked, baked, without salt4
      Dehydrated onions11284Onions, dehydrated flakes1
      Dehydrated potatoes11378Potatoes, mashed, dehydrated, flakes without milk, dry form1
      Potato chips and shoestring potatoes19410Snack, potato chips, made from dried potatoes, plain1
      Dry peas and lentils, code 116070Lentils, mature seeds, cooked, boiled, without salt1
      Dry peas and lentils, code 216086Peas, split, mature seeds, cooked, boiled, without salt1
      Dry black beans16015Beans, black, mature seeds, cooked, boiled, without salt1
      Dry great northern beans16326Beans, great northern, mature seeds, canned, low sodium4
      Dry lima beans16072Lima beans, large, mature seeds, cooked, boiled, without salt1
      Dry navy beans16038Beans, navy, mature seeds, cooked, boiled, without salt2
      Dry pinto beans16043Beans, pinto, mature seeds, cooked, boiled, without salt1
      Dry red kidney beans16033Beans, kidney, red, mature seeds, cooked, boiled, without salt1
      Other dry beans, code 116041Beans, pink, mature seeds, cooked, boiled, without salt1
      Other dry beans, code 216050Beans, white, mature seeds, cooked, boiled without salt1
      Other dry beans, code 316057Chickpeas (garbanzo beans, bengal gram), mature seeds, cooked, boiled, without salt1
      Other dry beans, code 411040Lima beans, immature seeds, frozen, baby, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt1
      Other dry beans, code 511192Cowpeas (blackeyes), immature seeds, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt1
      a The table contains the codebook that matches the commodities identified in the LAFA data series to food items in SR-28. The LAFA data series contains estimates of retail and consumer level loss for 213 commodities The LAFA data series contains 215 commodities. This study uses the data from 213 commodities, because two of the commodities (1. white and whole wheat flour and 2. durum flour) duplicate the values contained in the commodity “wheat flour.”
      b This column identifies the following methods of selecting codes:
      • 1.
        This SR-28 code matches the code used by Kantor.
        • Kantor L.S.
        A Dietary Assessment of the US Food Supply: Comparing per Capita Food Consumption with Food Guide Pyramid Serving Recommendations.
      • 2.
        This SR-28 code matches the code used by Buzby and colleagues
        • Buzby J.C.
        • Wells H.F.
        • Hyman J.
        The Estimated Amount, Value, and Calories Of Postharvest Food Losses at the Retail and Consumer Levels in the United States.
        because Kantor
        • Kantor L.S.
        A Dietary Assessment of the US Food Supply: Comparing per Capita Food Consumption with Food Guide Pyramid Serving Recommendations.
        did not contain a code for this commodity, or contained a code that was not the closest match to the LAFA commodity, or contained a code that was no longer available in SR-28.
      • 3.
        This SR-28 code was selected by the authors as the closest match to the LAFA commodity because Kantor
        • Kantor L.S.
        A Dietary Assessment of the US Food Supply: Comparing per Capita Food Consumption with Food Guide Pyramid Serving Recommendations.
        and Buzby and colleagues
        • Buzby J.C.
        • Wells H.F.
        • Hyman J.
        The Estimated Amount, Value, and Calories Of Postharvest Food Losses at the Retail and Consumer Levels in the United States.
        did not contain a code for this commodity.
      • 4.
        This SR-28 code was selected by the authors as the closest match to the LAFA commodity, even though Kantor
        • Kantor L.S.
        A Dietary Assessment of the US Food Supply: Comparing per Capita Food Consumption with Food Guide Pyramid Serving Recommendations.
        or Buzby and colleagues
        • Buzby J.C.
        • Wells H.F.
        • Hyman J.
        The Estimated Amount, Value, and Calories Of Postharvest Food Losses at the Retail and Consumer Levels in the United States.
        used a different code for this commodity. Reasons for selecting a code that differed from Kantor
        • Kantor L.S.
        A Dietary Assessment of the US Food Supply: Comparing per Capita Food Consumption with Food Guide Pyramid Serving Recommendations.
        or Buzby and colleagues
        • Buzby J.C.
        • Wells H.F.
        • Hyman J.
        The Estimated Amount, Value, and Calories Of Postharvest Food Losses at the Retail and Consumer Levels in the United States.
        included preferences for certain characteristics such as raw or cooked commodities, or the availability of codes with more comprehensive information on nutrient composition.
      When calculations from Kantor
      • Kantor L.S.
      A Dietary Assessment of the US Food Supply: Comparing per Capita Food Consumption with Food Guide Pyramid Serving Recommendations.
      or Buzby and colleagues
      • Buzby J.C.
      • Wells H.F.
      • Hyman J.
      The Estimated Amount, Value, and Calories Of Postharvest Food Losses at the Retail and Consumer Levels in the United States.
      did not contain a code for a commodity, or when that code was not the closest match to the LAFA commodity, the authors used the following general preferences:
      • Vegetables: Raw options were selected whenever possible, under the assumption that most discarded food at the retail and consumer levels (more so at the retail level) is likely to be raw.
      • Fruit: Unsweetened options were selected whenever possible. As such, the nutrient totals are likely to underestimate the loss of sugar and carbohydrates.
      • Fish: Kantor
        • Kantor L.S.
        A Dietary Assessment of the US Food Supply: Comparing per Capita Food Consumption with Food Guide Pyramid Serving Recommendations.
        and Buzby and colleagues
        • Buzby J.C.
        • Wells H.F.
        • Hyman J.
        The Estimated Amount, Value, and Calories Of Postharvest Food Losses at the Retail and Consumer Levels in the United States.
        used SR-28 codes for cooked fish. In this study, SR-28 codes for cooked fish were used, except when the codes for cooked fish did not contain comprehensive information on nutrient composition; in these cases, when the codes for raw fish contained more comprehensive information, the codes for raw fish were used.
      c The most recent data were from before 2012. In most of these cases, the most recent data were from 2010.
      Table 2Example calculation of nutrient loss for estimating the amount of per capita per day nutrient loss of 213 commodities at the retail and consumer levels of the US food supply in 2012
      An example calculation for one nutrient (in this case, protein) for one food (in this case, eggs):
      Step 1: How much protein is contained in a standardized unit of egg?
      According to the National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference – Release 28 (SR-28; US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service Nutrient Data Laboratory), for the code 01129 (which refers to “Egg, whole, cooked, hard-boiled”), 100 g egg contains 12.58 g protein.
      Step 2: How much egg is lost at the retail and consumer levels?
      The Loss-Adjusted Food Availability (LAFA) data series

      US Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. Loss-adjusted food availability documentation. https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/food-availability-per-capita-data-system/loss-adjusted-food-availability-documentation/. Accessed June 13, 2016.

      provides the following information about eggs:
      YearPrimary weight (lb/y)Loss from primary to retail weight (%)Retail weight (lb/y)Loss from retail/institutional to consumer level (%)Consumer weight (lb/y)Loss at consumer levelTotal loss, all levels (%)Per capita availability adjusted for loss (lb/y)
      Nonedible share (%)Other (cooking loss and uneaten food) (%)
      201232.61.532.29.029.312.023.041.719.0
      The above table provides the percentage of weight that is lost from one stage to the next, but it does not isolate the amount that is lost at any particular stage. In other words, the table shows how much weight is lost from the primary to the retail level, but it does not show how much of the total loss is due to loss at the retail level only.
      The stages that are of interest to this study are:
      • The loss that occurs from the retail to the consumer level, and
      • The loss that occurs at the consumer level from cooking loss and uneaten food, referred to here as “edible consumer loss.”
      When combined, the loss at these two stages comprises the “retail- and consumer-level loss” that is the subject of the study’s main research question.
      The stages that do not need to be included for this study are:
      • The loss that occurs from the primary to the retail level. This data was not used in the analysis by Buzby and colleagues
        • Buzby J.C.
        • Wells H.F.
        • Hyman J.
        The Estimated Amount, Value, and Calories Of Postharvest Food Losses at the Retail and Consumer Levels in the United States.
        because the data were not consistently available for all 213 commodities, and
      • The loss that occurs at the consumer level from the non-edible portion. This loss does not reflect preventable food waste and is therefore not relevant to the research question. Note that the US Department of Agriculture conceptualizes all loss from nonedible portions as occurring at the consumer level.
      Using the information from the LAFA data series, the following calculations were used to isolate the loss from the retail to the consumer level and the loss at the edible consumer level. In the following example calculations, all numbers that come directly from the LAFA data series are in boldface type; all other numbers are the result of calculations performed by the authors.
      According to the 2012 LAFA data series, the primary weight per capita of egg was 32.65 lb/y, before accounting for any food loss.
      From the primary (ie, producer or farm) level to retail level, 1.5% of these 32.65 lb were lost, leaving 32.16 lb:
      A.Percapitaavailability,adjustedforlossattheprimary level=Primaryweightpercapita(lbs)×(1%lossattheprimarylevel)=32.65lb×(11.5%)=32.16 lb available
      → Taking the difference between the primary weight and A isolates the amount of loss from the primary level to the retail level only:
      Lossfromtheprimaryleveltotheretaillevel=Primaryweightpercapita(lb)Per capita availability, adjusted for loss at the primary level=32.65lb32.16lb=0.49 lb lost from primary to retail level

      From the retail to the consumer level, 9% of the 32.16 lb were lost, leaving 29.26 lb:
      B.Percapitaavailability,adjustedforlossattheprimaryandretaillevels=Primaryweightpercapita(lb)×(1%lossattheprimarylevel)×(1%lossattheretaillevel)=32.65lb×(11.5%)×(19%)=29.26 lb available
      → Taking the difference between A and B isolates the amount of loss from the retail level to the consumer level:
      Lossfromtheretailleveltotheconsumerlevel=Percapitaavailability,adjustedforlossattheprimarylevelPer capita availability, adjusted for loss at the primary & retail levels=32.16lb29.26lb=2.9 lb lost from retail to consumer level
      At the consumer level, a total of 35% was lost (35% is the sum of 12% and 23%):
      C.Percapitaavailability,adjustedforlossattheprimary,retail,andconsumerlevels(nonedible&edible)=Primaryweightpercapita(lb)×(1%lossattheprimarylevel)×(1%lossattheretaillevel)×(1%lossatconsumerlevel,nonedibleandedible)=32.65lb×(11.5%)×(19%)×(135%)=19.02 lb available
      →Taking the difference between B and C isolates the amount of loss at the consumer level (nonedible and edible)
      Lossattheconsumerlevel(nonedibleandedible)=Percapitaavailability,adjustedforlossattheprimaryandretaillevelsPer capita availability, adjusted for loss at the primary, retail, and consumer levels=29.26lb19.02lb=10.45 lb lost at the consumer level
      Of the 10.45 lb lost at the consumer level only, we separated the proportions of loss from the nonedible portion and edible portion, as shown below:
      Consumer-level:nonedibleloss=Lossattheconsumerlevel(nonedibleandedible)×[%nonedibleloss÷ (% nonedibleloss+%edibleloss)]=10.45lb×[12%÷(12%+23%)=3.59 lb lost as the nonedible portion of the consumer level
      Consumer-level:edibleloss=Lossattheconsumerlevel(nonedible&edible)×[%edibleloss÷(% nonedible loss + % edible loss)]=10.45lb×[23%÷(12%+23%)]=6.87 lb lost as the edible portion of the consumer level
      The above calculations demonstrate that for every 32.65 lb eggs available per capita per year in the US food supply in 2012, there was a total of 10.45 lb of loss from all levels of the supply chain, leaving 19.02 pounds available. A summary of these calculations is shown in the table below.
      From the primary to the retail levelFrom the retail to the consumer levelAt the consumer level
      Starting weight32.65 lb32.16 lb29.26 lb
      Proportion of loss from one level to the next1.5%9%35% (12% from nonedible, 23% from edible)
      Pounds remaining available after this stage32.16 lb29.26 lb19.02 lb
      Pounds of loss during this stage32.65 – 32.16

      = 0.49 lb
      32.16 – 29.26

      = 2.9 lb
      29.26 – 19.02 = 10.45 lb

      nonedible portion = 3.59 lb

      edible portion = 6.87 lbs
      To finish Step 2, we took the sum of the loss from the retail to the consumer level (2.9 lb) and the edible portion of the consumer level loss (6.87 lb) to yield the total loss of egg at the retail and consumer (edible) levels: 9.62 lb per capita per year
      Step 3: How much protein is contained in the amount of egg lost at the retail- and consumer-levels?
      The 9.62 lb egg loss per capita per year calculated in Step 2 was first converted into grams:
      Gramsofegglossattheretailandconsumer(edible)levels,percapitaperyear=Poundsofegglossattheretailandconsumer(edible)levels×453.592g/lb=9.62lb×453.592g/lb=4365.69 g egg loss per capita per year
      We then converted the number of grams of egg loss per capita per year into the number of 100-g units, so that it would be comparable to Step 1 (in which we calculated the number of grams of protein in a standardized 100-g unit of eggs):
      Numberof100-gunitsofegglossattheretailandconsumer(edible)levels,percapitaperyear=Gramsofegglossattheretailandconsumer(edible)levels÷100=4365.69g÷100=43.66 100-g units of egg loss per capita per year
      If 43.66 100-g units of egg are lost at the retail- and consumer-levels per capita per year, and if a 100-gunit of egg contains 12.58 g protein, then there are 549.24 g protein embedded in the amount of egg lost at the retail and consumer levels, per capita per year:
      Gramsofproteinembeddedintheamountofegglossattheretailandconsumer(edible)levels,percapitaperyear=100gunitsofegglosspercapitaperyear×gramsofproteinper100gegg=43.66100gunits×12.58gproteinper100gegg=549.24 g protein
      Flow of work
      Steps 1, 2, and 3 were performed for each of 213 commodities and for each of 27 nutrients. Amounts of loss were summed by nutrient to produce estimates of the amount of nutrients lost across all 213 commodities at the retail- and consumer-levels (edible portion only), per capita per year. Per capita per year estimates were divided by 365 to produce the per capita per day estimates that appear in Table 1 (available online at www.jandonline.org).
      Table 4Magnitude of daily per capita nutrient loss of 213 commodities in the US food supply in 2012: Percent contribution from retail-level and consumer-level loss
      Row percentages may not add up to 100 due to rounding.
      NutrientAverage daily per capita loss of nutrients at the retail and consumer levelsContribution from Retail-Level LossContribution from Consumer-Level Loss
      n (%)
      Energy, macronutrients, and fiber
      Energy (kcal)1,216.5457.6 (38)758.9 (62)
      Carbohydrates (g)146.447.3 (32)99.1 (68)
      Protein (g)32.88.5 (26)24.3 (74)
      Total Fat (g)57.226.6 (47)30.6 (53)
      Saturated Fat (g)18.17.5 (42)10.6 (58)
      Monounsaturated Fat (g)18.68.1 (44)10.5 (56)
      Polyunsaturated Fat (g)16.99.5 (56)7.4 (44)
      Cholesterol (mg)137.736.8 (27)100.9 (73)
      Dietary Fiber (g)5.92.0 (34)3.9 (66)
      Minerals
      Calcium (mg)286.183.2 (29)202.9 (71)
      Iron (mg)5.31.9 (34)3.5 (66)
      Magnesium (mg)85.026.5 (31)58.5 (69)
      Phosphorus (mg)450.3126.9 (28)323.4 (72)
      Potassium (mg)880.2254.1 (29)626.2 (71)
      Sodium (mg)264.270.9 (27)193.3 (73)
      Zinc (mg)3.91.0 (25)2.9 (75)
      Vitamins
      Vitamin A
      Retinal activity equivalents.
      (μg)
      308.386.3 (28)222.0 (72)
      Thiamin (mg)0.90.3 (33)0.6 (67)
      Riboflavin (mg)0.80.3 (32)0.6 (68)
      Niacin (mg)9.02.6 (29)6.4 (71)
      Vitamin B-6 (mg)0.60.2 (25)0.5 (75)
      Folate (μg)268.598.8 (37)169.7 (63)
      Vitamin B12 (μ-g)1.50.4 (24)1.2 (76)
      Vitamin C (mg)35.411.1 (32)24.2 (68)
      Vitamin D (μg)1.70.6 (32)1.2 (68)
      Vitamin E (mg)3.61.7 (48)1.9 (52)
      Vitamin K (μg)79.241.0 (52)38.2 (48)
      a Row percentages may not add up to 100 due to rounding.
      b Retinal activity equivalents.
      Table 5Contribution of food groups to daily per capita nutrient loss in the US food supply in 2012: Energy, macronutrients, fats, cholesterol, and fiber
      Column percentages may not add to 100%, due to rounding.
      Food groupEnergy (kcal)Carbohydrates (g)Protein (g)Total Fat (g)Saturated Fat (g)Monounsaturated Fat (g)Polyunsaturated Fat (g)Cholesterol (mg)Dietary Fiber (g)
      n (%-)
      Total1,216.5146.432.857.218.118.616.9137.75.9
      Grains270.9
      The numerical values are per capita per day amounts of nutrients embedded in the waste of commodities at the retail and consumer levels in the United States food supply in 2012.
      (22)
      The percentage values represent the proportion of all loss for each nutrient that can be attributed to each food group.
      57.4 (39)6.8 (21)0.9 (2)0.2 (1)0.2 (1)0.4 (2)0.0 (0)2.3 (39)
      Fruit40.2 (3)9.4 (6)0.5 (2)0.5 (1)0.1 (0)0.3 (2)0.1 (1)0.0 (0)1.3 (22)
      Vegetables47.0 (4)10.1 (7)1.7 (5)0.4 (1)0.1 (1)0.1 (0)0.2 (1)0.0 (0)2.0 (34)
      Dairy103.5 (9)8.4 (6)6.3 (19)
      Example interpretation: of the 32.8 g protein per capita per day embedded in food loss in the US food supply, 19% of those grams come from dairy and 46% of those grams come from meat, poultry, and fish.
      5.0 (9)3.0 (17)1.4 (7)0.2 (1)17.9 (13)0.1 (2)
      Meat, poultry, fish130.9 (11)0.0 (0)15.2 (46)
      Example interpretation: of the 32.8 g protein per capita per day embedded in food loss in the US food supply, 19% of those grams come from dairy and 46% of those grams come from meat, poultry, and fish.
      7.3 (13)2.6 (14)3.1 (17)0.9 (5)55.6 (40)0.0 (0)
      Meat82.6 (7)0.0 (0)8.7 (27)5.1 (9)1.9 (11)2.2 (12)0.4 (2)29.2 (21)0.0 (0)
      Poultry41.3 (3)0.0 (0)5.1 (16)2.1 (4)0.6 (3)0.8 (4)0.5 (3)20.2 (15)0.0 (0)
      Fish7.0 (1)0.0 (0)1.4 (1)0.1 (0)0.0 (0)0.0 (0)0.0 (0)6.3 (5)0.0 (0)
      Eggs18.5 (2)0.1 (0)1.5 (5)1.3 (2)0.4 (2)0.5 (3)0.2 (1)44.6 (32)0.0 (0)
      Tree nuts, peanuts13.5 (1)0.4 (0)0.5 (1)1.2 (2)0.2 (1)0.6 (3)0.4 (2)0.0 (0)0.2 (4)
      Added sweeteners
      Added sweeteners is used here as a category for classification, and may not match other definitions for added sweeteners such as that used in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
      230.0 (19)60.2 (41)0.0 (0)0.0 (0)0.0 (0)0.0 (0)0.0 (0)0.0 (0)0.0 (0)
      Added fats and oils362.0 (30)0.2 (0)0.2 (1)40.5 (71)11.6 (64)12.6 (68)14.6 (86)19.5 (14)0.0 (0)
      a Column percentages may not add to 100%, due to rounding.
      b The numerical values are per capita per day amounts of nutrients embedded in the waste of commodities at the retail and consumer levels in the United States food supply in 2012.
      c The percentage values represent the proportion of all loss for each nutrient that can be attributed to each food group.
      d Example interpretation: of the 32.8 g protein per capita per day embedded in food loss in the US food supply, 19% of those grams come from dairy and 46% of those grams come from meat, poultry, and fish.
      e Added sweeteners is used here as a category for classification, and may not match other definitions for added sweeteners such as that used in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
      Table 6Contribution of food groups to daily per capita nutrient loss in the US food supply in 2012: Minerals
      Column percentages may not add to 100%, due to rounding.
      Food groupCalcium (mg)Iron (mg)Magnesium (mg)Phosphorus (mg)Potassium (mg)Sodium (mg)Zinc (mg)
      n (%)
      Total286.15.385.0450.3880.2264.23.9
      Grains12.2
      The numerical values are per capita per day amounts of nutrients embedded in the waste of commodities at the retail and consumer levels in the US food supply in 2012.
      (4)
      The percentage values represent the proportion of all loss for each nutrient that can be attributed to each food group.
      3.2 (60)22.5 (27)87.8 (19)89.6 (10)2.3 (1)0.6 (16)
      Fruit10.7 (4)0.2 (4)8.8 (10)12.1 (3)140.2 (16)5.1 (2)0.1 (2)
      Vegetables28.4 (10)
      Example interpretation: of the 286.1 mg calcium per capita per day embedded in food loss in the US food supply, 10% come from vegetables, and 72% of those milligrams come from dairy.
      0.6 (12)17.3 (20)39.8 (9)258.0 (29)46.4 (18)0.3 (7)
      Dairy207.1 (72)
      Example interpretation: of the 286.1 mg calcium per capita per day embedded in food loss in the US food supply, 10% come from vegetables, and 72% of those milligrams come from dairy.
      0.1 (2)15.3 (18)153.6 (34)185.9 (21)127.6 (48)0.8 (21)
      Meat, poultry, fish11.7 (4)0.9 (17)14.4 (17)120.9 (27)165.3 (19)44.5 (17)1.8 (47)
      Meat5.5 (2)0.5 (10)7.3 (9)66.9 (15)102.2 (12)17.9 (7)1.3 (34)
      Poultry2.8 (1)0.3 (5)4.7 (6)36.5 (8)41.4 (5)16.2 (6)0.4 (11)
      Fish3.4 (1)0.1 (1)2.3 (3)17.4 (4)21.7 (2)10.4 (4)0.1 (2)
      Eggs6.0 (2)0.1 (3)1.2 (1)20.6 (5)15.1 (2)14.8 (6)0.1 (3)
      Tree nuts, peanuts3.1 (1)0.1 (2)4.6 (5)9.4 (2)15.2 (2)0.2 (0)0.1 (2)
      Added sweeteners
      Added sweeteners is used here as a category for classification, and may not match other definitions for added sweeteners such as that used in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
      0.7 (0)0.0 (1)0.2 (0)0.1 (0)2.4 (0)1.0 (0)0.0
      Added fats and oils6.3 (2)0.0 (0)0.6 (1)6.1 (1)8.6 (1)22.3 (8)0.0 (1)
      a Column percentages may not add to 100%, due to rounding.
      b The numerical values are per capita per day amounts of nutrients embedded in the waste of commodities at the retail and consumer levels in the US food supply in 2012.
      c The percentage values represent the proportion of all loss for each nutrient that can be attributed to each food group.
      d Example interpretation: of the 286.1 mg calcium per capita per day embedded in food loss in the US food supply, 10% come from vegetables, and 72% of those milligrams come from dairy.
      e Added sweeteners is used here as a category for classification, and may not match other definitions for added sweeteners such as that used in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
      Table 7Contribution of food groups to daily per capita nutrient loss in the US food supply in 2012: Vitamins
      Column percentages may not add to 100%, due to rounding.
      Food groupVitamin A (μg)Thiamin (mg)Riboflavin (mg)Niacin (mg)Vitamin B-6 (mg)Folate (μg)Vitamin B-12 (μg)Vitamin C (mg)Vitamin D (μg)Vitamin E (mg)Vitamin K (μg)
      n (%)
      Total308.30.90.89.00.6268.51.535.41.73.679.2
      Grains0.9
      The numerical values are per capita per day amounts of nutrients embedded in the waste of commodities at the retail and consumer levels in the US food supply in 2012.
      (0)
      The percentage values represent the proportion of all loss for each nutrient that can be attributed to each food group.
      0.5 (59)0.3 (34)3.9 (43)0.1 (10)203.7 (76)0.0 (0)0.0 (0)0.0 (0)0.1 (2)0.2 (0)
      Fruit14.1 (5)0.0 (4)0.0 (3)0.3 (3)0.1 (11)12.3 (5)0.0 (0)17.9 (51)
      Example interpretation: of the 35.4 mg vitamin C per capita per day embedded in food loss in the US food supply, 51% of those milligrams come from fruit and 48% come from vegetables.
      0.0 (0)0.2 (5)2.0 (3)
      Vegetables125.4 (41)0.1 (15)0.1 (7)0.8 (9)0.2 (25)29.6 (11)0.0 (0)16.9 (48)
      Example interpretation: of the 35.4 mg vitamin C per capita per day embedded in food loss in the US food supply, 51% of those milligrams come from fruit and 48% come from vegetables.
      0.0 (0)0.4 (12)31.5 (40)
      Dairy74.7 (24)0.0 (5)0.2 (28)0.1 (1)0.0 (8)7.2 (3)0.6 (40)0.4 (1)0.9 (53)0.1 (2)0.4 (0)
      Meat, poultry, fish29.1 (9)0.1 (15)0.1 (16)3.8 (42)0.3 (42)7.4 (3)0.8 (50)0.1 (0)0.5 (27)0.2 (5)0.6 (1)
      Meat0.8 (0)0.1 (13)0.1 (10)1.9 (21)0.2 (26)1.5 (1)0.4 (27)0.0 (0)0.2 (11)0.1 (2)0.2 (0)
      Poultry25.4 (8)0.0 (1)0.0 (5)1.6 (18)0.1 (13)4.3 (2)0.2 (12)0.1 (0)0.0 (1)0.0 (1)0.3 (0)
      Fish2.9 (1)0.0 (1)0.0 (1)0.3 (3)0.0 (2)1.6 (1)0.2 (11)0.1 (0)0.3 (15)0.1 (2)0.0 (0)
      Eggs17.8 (6)0.0 (1)0.1 (7)0.0 (0)0.0 (2)5.3 (2)0.1 (9)0.0 (0)0.3 (15)0.1 (3)0.0 (0)
      Tree nuts, peanuts0.0 (0)0.0 (1)0.0 (1)0.1 (2)0.0 (1)2.7 (1)0.0 (0)0.0 (0)0.0 (0)0.3 (7)0.1 (0)
      Added sweeteners
      Added sweeteners is used here as a category for classification, and may not match other definitions for added sweeteners such as that used in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
      0.0 (0)0.0 (0)0.0 (2)0.0 (0)0.0 (0)0.0 (0)0.0 (0)0.0 (0)0.0 (0)0.0 (0)0.0 (0)
      Added fats and oils46.4 (15)0.0 (0)0.0 (1)0.0 (0)0.0 (0)0.4 (0)0.0 (1)0.0 (0)0.1 (5)2.3 (63)44.4 (56)
      a Column percentages may not add to 100%, due to rounding.
      b The numerical values are per capita per day amounts of nutrients embedded in the waste of commodities at the retail and consumer levels in the US food supply in 2012.
      c The percentage values represent the proportion of all loss for each nutrient that can be attributed to each food group.
      d Example interpretation: of the 35.4 mg vitamin C per capita per day embedded in food loss in the US food supply, 51% of those milligrams come from fruit and 48% come from vegetables.
      e Added sweeteners is used here as a category for classification, and may not match other definitions for added sweeteners such as that used in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
      Table 9Comparison of daily population-level nutrient loss of 213 commodities at the retail and consumer levels in the US food supply in 2012 with recommended and current intakes: Additional nutrients
      This Table expresses the results from Table 3 in relation to the gap between current and recommended intakes.
      NutrientRecommended and Current IntakesEquivalence to Wasted Food
      Recommended intake (RDA
      RDA=Recommended Dietary Allowance.
      or AI
      AI=Adequate Intake.
      , aged 19-30 y)
      Mean current intake (aged ≥20 y)Average gap in dietary intake for adults
      Gap in dietary intake=recommended intake – mean current intake.
      Equivalent number of gaps in dietary intake (millions of adults)
      Millions of adults equivalent to the gap in dietary intake was calculated as the daily loss per population divided by the gap in dietary intake. The daily loss per population was calculated as the daily loss per capita (from Table 3) multiplied by the size of total US population on July 1, 2012 (313,914,040).
      Equivalent number of recommended intakes (millions of adults)
      Millions of adults equivalent to the recommended intake was calculated as the daily loss per population divided by the recommended intake.
      Adult women
      Saturated fat (g)
      Cells with no values indicate either that there was no RDA for this nutrient, or that the the gap between current and recommended intakes was not calculated because mean current intake exceeded recommended intakes.
      22.3
      Monounsaturated fat (g)24.3
      Polyunsaturated fat (g)16.8
      Cholesterol (mg)229.0
      Phosphorus (mg)700.01,194.0201.9
      Sodium (mg)1,500.02,997.055.3
      Zinc (mg)8.09.5153.9
      Thiamin (mg)1.11.4251.4
      Riboflavin (mg)1.11.8237.8
      Niacin (mg)14.020.9201.9
      Vitamin B-6 (mg)1.31.8155.3
      Folate400.0493.0210.7
      Vitamin B-12 (μg)2.44.2199.8
      Vitamin K (μg)90.0121.7276.2
      Adult men
      Saturated fat (g)30.9
      Monounsaturated fat (g)34.8
      Polyunsaturated fat (g)22.7
      Cholesterol (mg)338.0
      Phosphorus (mg)700.01,653.0201.9
      Sodium (mg)1,500.04,218.055.3
      Zinc (mg)11.013.7111.9
      Thiamin (mg)1.21.9230.4
      Riboflavin (mg)1.32.5201.2
      Niacin (mg)16.031.6176.7
      Vitamin B-6 (mg)1.32.6155.3
      Folate400.0651.0210.7
      Vitamin B-12 (μg)2.46.8199.8
      Vitamin K (μg)120.0138.4207.2
      a This Table expresses the results from Table 3 in relation to the gap between current and recommended intakes.
      b RDA=Recommended Dietary Allowance.
      c AI=Adequate Intake.
      d Gap in dietary intake=recommended intake – mean current intake.
      e Millions of adults equivalent to the gap in dietary intake was calculated as the daily loss per population divided by the gap in dietary intake. The daily loss per population was calculated as the daily loss per capita (from Table 3) multiplied by the size of total US population on July 1, 2012 (313,914,040).
      f Millions of adults equivalent to the recommended intake was calculated as the daily loss per population divided by the recommended intake.
      g Cells with no values indicate either that there was no RDA for this nutrient, or that the the gap between current and recommended intakes was not calculated because mean current intake exceeded recommended intakes.
      Table 10Supporting information for Figure 2 (Equivalent number of recommended intakes embedded in daily population-level nutrient loss in the US food supply in 2012, expressed as a percentage of the 2012 US adult population [aged ≥20 years])
      The bolded values are represented directly in Figure 2, whereas the values without bold are provided to demonstrate how the proportions were calculated. Not all calculations are shown.
      Nutrient Loss in the US Food Supply Is Equivalent to the Recommended Intake (RDA
      RDA=Recommended Dietary Allowance.
      or AI
      AI=Adequate Intake.
      ) for Number of Adults per Day (aged 19-30 y)
      Average between Women and Men, Expressed as a Percentage of the US Adult Population in 2012
      The US adult population on July 1, 2012 was 226,456,000.27
      Percent Contribution of the Average Loss from Each Level of the Supply Chain
      Row percentages may not add to 100 due to rounding.
      WomenMenAverageRetailConsumer
      %
      Nutrients shown in Figure 2
      Vitamin A (μg)138,251,315107,528,800122,890,057542872
      Vitamin C (mg)148,020,554123,350,462135,685,508603268
      Vitamin D (μg)36,580,79036,580,79036,580,790163268
      Vitamin E (mg)75,856,01675,856,01675,856,016334852
      Calcium (mg)89,805,56789,805,56789,805,567402971
      Iron (mg)92,651,241208,465,293150,558,267663466
      Magnesium (mg)86,024,76966,669,19676,346,982343169
      Potassium (mg)58,789,19358,789,19358,789,193262971
      Dietary Fiber (g)73,564,73548,397,85260,981,293273466
      Additional nutrients
      Calories (kcal)190,933,428190,933,428190,933,428843862
      Carbohydrates (g)353,442,030353,442,030353,442,0301563268
      Protein (g)223,685,738183,741,856203,713,797902674
      Phosphorus (mg)201,934,371201,934,371201,934,371892872
      Sodium (mg)55,291,05655,291,05655,291,056242773
      Zinc (mg)153,896,228111,924,530132,910,379592675
      Thiamin (mg)251,388,150230,439,138240,913,6441063266
      Riboflavin (mg)237,748,927201,172,169219,460,548973371
      Niacin (mg)201,932,318176,690,778189,311,548842971
      Vitamin B6 (mg)155,345,876155,345,876155,345,876692780
      Folate
      Dietary folate equivalents.
      (μg)
      210,742,850210,742,850210,742,850933763
      Vitamin B-12 (μg)199,792,333199,792,333199,792,333882477
      Vitamin K (μg)276,213,381207,160,035241,686,7081075248
      a The bolded values are represented directly in Figure 2, whereas the values without bold are provided to demonstrate how the proportions were calculated. Not all calculations are shown.
      b RDA=Recommended Dietary Allowance.
      c AI=Adequate Intake.
      d The US adult population on July 1, 2012 was 226,456,000.

      US Census Bureau, Population Division. Table 1. Monthly Population Estimates for the United States: April 1, 2010 to November 1, 2013 (NA-EST2012-01). http://www.census.gov/data/tables/2016/demo/popest/nation-total.html. Accessed June 6, 2016.

      e Row percentages may not add to 100 due to rounding.
      f Dietary folate equivalents.
      Table 11Supporting Information for Figure 3 (amount of nutrient loss per capita per day in the US food supply in 2012, expressed as a percentage of the Recommended Dietary Allowance [RDA] or Adequate Intake [AI] for each nutrient for adults aged 19-30 years)
      The boldface values are represented directly in Figure 3, whreas the values not in boldface are provided to demonstrate how the proportions were calculated. Not all calculations are shown.
      Amount of Nutrient Loss at the Retail Level, as a Percentage of the RDA or AIAmount of Nutrient Loss at the Consumer Level, as a Percentage of the RDA or AIAmount of Nutrient Loss at the Retail and Consumer Levels, as a Percentage of the RDA or AI
      Adult women (age ≥19 y)Adult men (age ≥19 y)Average (This is the contribution of retail level shown in Figure 3)Adult women (age ≥19 y)Adult men (age ≥19 y)Average (This is the contribution of consumer level shown in Figure 3)Adult women (age ≥19 y)Adult men (age ≥19 y)Average (This is the total percentage shown in Figure 3)
      Nutrients shown in Figure 3
      Vitamin A (μg)121011322528443439
      Vitamin C (mg)151214322730473943
      Vitamin D (μg)444888121212
      Vitamin E (mg)121212131313242424
      Calcium (mg)888202020292929
      Iron (mg)102216204432306648
      Magnesium (mg)978191517272124
      Potassium (mg)555131313181918
      Dietary fiber (g)857151013231519
      Additional nutrients
      Calories (kcal)232323383838616161
      Carbohydrates (g)363636767676113113113
      Protein (g)181517534348715965
      Phosphorus (mg)181818464646646464
      Sodium (mg)555131313181818
      Zinc (mg)12911372732493542
      Thiamin (mg)262425544952827577
      Riboflavin (mg)242022524448736270
      Niacin (mg)191617464043645660
      Vitamin B-6 (mg)121212373737464649
      Folate
      Dietary folate equivalents.
      (μg)
      252525424242676767
      Vitamin B-12 (μg)151515484848636364
      Vitamin K (μg)463440423237886677
      a The boldface values are represented directly in Figure 3, whreas the values not in boldface are provided to demonstrate how the proportions were calculated. Not all calculations are shown.
      b Dietary folate equivalents.
      Table 12Nutrient loss adjusted for the proportions of food that could be recovered, as estimated by the Rethink Food Waste through Economics and Data (ReFED) collaboration
      Step 1: Extracting proportions from ReFED report

      Rethink Food Waste Through Economics and Data (ReFED). A roadmap to reduce US Food Waste by 20%. http://www.refed.com/download. Accessed June 6, 2016.

      The maximum feasible amount of recovery: ReFED estimated the maximum feasible amount of recovery as 5.8 million tons of food per year, which is 9.21% of the 63 million tons of food currently wasted each year. (5.8 million/63 million=9.2%)
      The amount of recovery possible by scaling up seven cost-effective activities: ReFED estimated that scaling up seven cost-effective strategies for food recovery could result in an additional 1.1 million tons of food recovered per year, which is 1.75% of the 63 million tons of food currently wasted each year. (1.1 million/63 million=1.75%)
      Step 2: Applying proportions to amounts of nutrient loss, and expressing amounts of loss as the equivalent number of recommended intakes
      TitleNutrient Loss per Capita per DayMaximum Feasible Amount of RecoveryAmount of Nutrient Loss in the Previous Column is Equivalent to the RDA
      RDA=Recommended Dietary Allowance.
      or AI
      AI=Adequate Intake.
      for X Number of Adults Aged 19-30 y
      Amount of Cost-Effective RecoveryAmount of Nutrient Loss in the Previous Column Is Equivalent to the RDA or AI for X Number of Adults Aged 19-30 y
      Data source or calculationFrom Table 3Nutrient Loss per Capita × 9.21%(Maximum Feasible Amount of Recovery × 2012 US Total Population
      The US total population on July 1, 2012, was 313,914,040.27
      )/RDA or AI
      Nutrient Loss per Capita × 1.75%(Amount of Cost-Effective Recovery × 2012 US Total Population)/RDA or AI
      WomenMenWomenMen
      Energy and macronutrients
      Calories (kcal)1,216.5112.017,577,99817,577,99821.23,333,7583,333,758
      Carbohydrates (g)146.413.532,539,10832,539,1082.66,171,2106,171,210
      Protein (g)32.83.020,593,29016,915,9170.63,905,6243,208,191
      Fat (g)57.25.3No RDANo RDA1.0No RDANo RDA
      Underconsumed nutrients
      Vitamin A (μg)308.328.412,727,8999,899,4775.42,413,9121,877,487
      Vitamin C (mg)35.43.313,627,28911,356,0740.62,584,4862,153,738
      Vitamin D (μg)1.70.23,367,7553,367,7550.0638,712638,712
      Vitamin E (mg)3.60.36,983,5706,983,5700.11,324,4701,324,470
      Calcium (mg)286.126.38,267,8148,267,8145.01,568,0341,568,034
      Iron (mg)5.30.58,529,79719,192,0430.11,617,720202,215
      Magnesium (mg)85.07.87,919,7416,137,7991.51,699,3651,164,065
      Potassium (mg)880.281.05,412,3385,412,33815.41,026,4781,026,478
      Dietary fiber (g)5.90.56,772,6264,455,6750.11,284,464845,042
      a RDA=Recommended Dietary Allowance.
      b AI=Adequate Intake.
      c The US total population on July 1, 2012, was 313,914,040.

      US Census Bureau, Population Division. Table 1. Monthly Population Estimates for the United States: April 1, 2010 to November 1, 2013 (NA-EST2012-01). http://www.census.gov/data/tables/2016/demo/popest/nation-total.html. Accessed June 6, 2016.

      Table 13Comparison of estimated caloric value of nutrient loss by food group to estimates from similar analyses by Buzby and colleagues, Hall and colleagues, and Love and colleagues
      Caloric value of per capita per day nutrient loss from each food groupEstimates from this analysisEstimates from other analysisAbsolute differencePercent difference (%)
      Comparison to Buzby and colleagues1
      Buzby and colleagues1 used LAFA data from 2010.
      Grains27127100
      Fruit403825
      Vegetables474524
      Dairy104109–6–5
      Meat, poultry, fish131152–21–16
      Meat8399–16–20
      Poultry4143–2–4
      Fish79–2–29
      Eggs1916314
      Tree nuts, peanuts1412211
      Added sweeteners230256–26–11
      Added fats and oils362349134
      Total calories1,2171,249–33–3
      Comparison to Hall and colleagues2
      Hall and colleagues2 used data from 2003.
      Total calories1,2171,400–18415
      Comparison to Love and colleagues15
      Love and colleagues15 used data from 2009-2013.
      The estimates that originally appear in the study by Love and colleagues15 are presented per population per year. In this Table, estimates have been converted to calories or grams of protein per capita per day, so that they are directly comparable with findings from this analysis.
      Seafood calories - low7.09.6–2.6–37
      Seafood calories - high7.011.2–4.2–60
      Seafood protein - low1.41.8–0.4–31
      Seafood protein - high1.41.9–0.5–37
      a Buzby and colleagues
      • Buzby J.C.
      • Wells H.F.
      • Hyman J.
      The Estimated Amount, Value, and Calories Of Postharvest Food Losses at the Retail and Consumer Levels in the United States.
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      b Hall and colleagues
      • Hall K.D.
      • Guo J.
      • Dore M.
      • Chow C.C.
      The progressive increase of food waste in America and its environmental impact.
      used data from 2003.
      c Love and colleagues
      • Love D.C.
      • Fry J.P.
      • Milli M.C.
      • Neff R.A.
      Wasted seafood in the United States: Quantifying loss from production to consumption and moving toward solutions.
      used data from 2009-2013.
      d The estimates that originally appear in the study by Love and colleagues
      • Love D.C.
      • Fry J.P.
      • Milli M.C.
      • Neff R.A.
      Wasted seafood in the United States: Quantifying loss from production to consumption and moving toward solutions.
      are presented per population per year. In this Table, estimates have been converted to calories or grams of protein per capita per day, so that they are directly comparable with findings from this analysis.

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      Biography

      M. L. Spiker is a doctoral degree student, Program in Human Nutrition, Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, Baltimore, MD.
      S. M. Siddiqi is a doctoral degree student, Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, Baltimore, MD.
      R. A. Neff is an assistant professor, Department of Environmental Sciences, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, Baltimore, MD.
      H. A. B. Hiza is a nutritionist, US Department of Agriculture Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, Alexandria, VA.