Stores deny wasting food

Only a minimal amount of their food is dumped and that is only if it is not fit for human consumption, a Timaru supermarket owner says.

Public concern over two people who allegedly stole food from bins behind a supermarket earlier this week is at odds with how most safe waste is dealt with by local businesses.

Highfield New World owner Caroline Hall says that their produce which is past its use-by date and is unsafe to eat is sent to a chicken farm. Bakery items which are damaged and are no longer considered top-quality but still edible are given to a decile 2 school and the Salvation Army.

Mrs Hall said it was up to individual supermarkets how they dealt with food scraps but she believed owners were responsible.

"Our main concern is that what is in the skip is unsafe and could harm someone," she said.

For the past five years all Coupland's Bakery's leftover goods past their best-by date are sent to Christchurch charities.

Coupland's manager Sandy McIntyre said in the past the outside food bins would get ransacked or tipped over so now they only retain their paper recycling bin for disposal in Timaru.

Timaru District Zero Waste advisor Ruth Clarke said council wheelie bins were used effectively by many supermarkets and eateries in Timaru, minimising waste and reducing costs.

"Bylaw bans food waste from landfill as there is the option of composting. We try to encourage adherence to bylaw, but, to date, have not taken steps to enforce it."

Lawyer Quentin Hix said he presumed taking food from a bin without permission was theft under the Crimes Act 1961. A Timaru police spokesperson said that everything put in a bin was still owned and didn't change ownership until it was collected, then it became the property of the collector.

He said if a wheelie bin is on the berm, which is council property, its contents were still owned by the householder who put them there.

The Police statistics division did not have data on the number of such offences as it was not proscribed as a specific offence.

The Timaru Herald