Food manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers together disposed of  4.1 billion pounds of food waste in the United States in 2011, according to a new study from the Food Waste Reduction Alliance (FWRA), Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and the National Restaurant Association (NRA). This study is the first comprehensive assessment of food waste data collected directly from the food industry.

"What's frightening about this number is that it only accounts for food waste from companies, not consumers who throw away nearly 20 pounds of food per person per month," says Phil Lempert, founder of Food Nutrition & Science and CEO of The Lempert Report. "Everyone in the food chain from growers and manufacturers to retailers and consumers have to figure out how to decrease the waste and get these staggering numbers down."

The manufacturing sector disposed of 2.4 billion pounds, while the retail and wholesale sectors disposed of 1.7 billion pounds. Fortunately, only a small amount of waste ends up in landfills while 73 percent is converted to animal feed, and 20 percent is reused as fertilizer.

Also this month, a recent study from Harvard University and The National University of Singapore and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests eating more than .50 servings of red meat per day was associated with a 48 percent elevated risk of type 2 diabetes.

Source: Food Nutrition & Science