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France Named Most Food Sustainable Country

A customer shops in a supermarket in Nice, France, Jan. 16, 2017.
A customer shops in a supermarket in Nice, France, Jan. 16, 2017.
France Named Most Food Sustainable Country
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A recent report ranks France the top country in the world in methods of food sustainability.

The Food Sustainability Index rates countries on how they deal with food-related issues including nutrition, agriculture methods and food waste.

The Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition published the report.

The index rated 34 countries. Japan, Germany, Spain, and Sweden, followed France to complete the top five spots. Portugal, Italy, South Korea and Hungary were also among the countries rated in the top fourth.

Unethical and immoral to waste resources

Vytenis Andriukaitis is the European Union’s Commissioner for Health and Food safety. He spoke at the release of the Index on Tuesday. He said it is "unethical and immoral" to waste resources when hundreds of millions of people go hungry across the world.

He added, "we are all responsible, every person and every country."

The United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization says that one third of all food produced in the world is wasted. That is equal to 1.3 billion tons of food each year.

Wasted food can harm the environment. When food decomposes, it releases carbon gases that are linked to warming temperatures. The total amount of wasted food in the world is believed to produce more greenhouse gases than any country except for China and the United States.

Irene Mia is the global editorial director for the Economist Intelligence Unit, a research group with the Economist Magazine which wrote the report. She told Reuters, "What is really important is the vision and importance of [food sustainability] in these governments' agendas and policies."

Mia added, "It's something that is moving up in governments' agendas across the world."

Global hunger levels grew last year for the first time in more than 10 years. UN agencies say 815 million people suffer from hunger.

A war on food waste

The report says France is leading the movement to reduce food waste. It is the first country to approve targeted food waste policies. These policies ban supermarkets from throwing away unsold food, and restaurants need to provide containers for unfinished food, if asked.

The report says France loses only 1.8 percent of its total food production each year. It also plans to cut this in half by 2025.

Meadhbh Bolger is with the environmental activist group Friends of the Earth Europe.

She praised efforts in France.

"France has taken some important and welcome steps forward." She said. "This needs to be matched at the European level with an EU-wide binding food waste reduction target."

Rich countries performed better in the index than developing ones.

The United States ranked 21st on the list. The study criticized U.S. management of soil and fertilizer in agriculture. In addition, the report said, Americans eat too much meat, sugar and saturated fats.

The United Arab Emirates has the highest income per person of all 34 countries studied. But it still ranked last. The report said this was because of its high food waste of almost 1,000 kilos per person per year, growing overweight population, and its use of water in agriculture.

I’m Phil Dierking.

Ruairi Casey originally wrote this story for the Reuters. Phil Dierking adapted this story for VOA Learning English. Mario Ritter was the editor.

Is your country on the list? How much do you think your country wastes food? We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page.


Words in This Story

rank – v. to place (someone or something) in a particular position among a group of people or things that are being judged according to quality, ability, size, etc.​

nutrition – n. the process of eating the right kind of food so you can grow properly and be healthy​

index – n. an ordered list​

spot – n. a particular space or area​

agenda – n. a list or outline of things to be considered or done

decompose – v. to break up into parts by or as if by a chemical process

greenhouse gases - n. a gas that contributes to the greenhouse effect by absorbing infrared radiation, such as carbon dioxide ​

saturated fats - n. a type of fat containing a high proportion of fatty acid molecules​

sustainability – n. of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged

unethical – adj. not conforming to a high moral standard

vision – n. a thought, concept, or object formed by the imagination

global – adj. worldwide

supermarket – n. large food store​

management – n. the act or process of deciding how to use something