NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


January 21, 2009

British households will be visited by officials offering advice on cooking with leftovers, in a government initiative to reduce the amount of food that gets thrown away.  Home cooks will also be told what size portions to prepare, taught to understand "best before" dates and urged to make more use of their freezers.

The door-to-door campaign, which started this month, is funded by the Waste and Resources Action Program (WRAP), a government agency charged with reducing household waste.

The officials will be called "food champions," however, they were dismissed as "food police" by critics who called the scheme an example of excessive government nannying:

  • In an initial seven-week trial, eight officials will visit 24,500 homes, dishing out advice and recipes.
  • The officials, each of whom has received a day's training, will be paid up to £8.49 (about US $11.87) an hour, with a bonus for working on Saturdays.
  • The pilot scheme, will cost £30,000 (about U.S. $42,000), and could be extended nationwide if it is seen as a success.
  • If all 25 million households in the United Kingdom were visited in the same way, 8,000 officials would be required at a cost of tens of millions of pounds.

Peter Ainsworth, the shadow environment secretary, said: "You might have thought, at a time of economic hardship, that spending public money on stating the obvious is hardly a priority.  With household budgets under pressure, most people are looking to spend wisely and waste less anyway."

Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance said: "This is a prime example of excessive government nannying, and a waste of public money and resources.  In the grip of a recession, the last thing people need is someone bossing them about in their own kitchen.

"Worse still, the money for this scheme will come directly out of taxpayers' pockets, at a time when they need every penny to weather the financial storm."

Source: Jasper Copping, "Don't throw away leftovers, warn 'food police,' " Telegraph, January 10, 2009.


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