Let’s reduce food wastage this Thaipusam, consumer group urges devotees

Opalyn Mok
Devotees make offerings to the Lord Murugan in the Silver Chariot in George Town , January 30, 2018. ― Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

GEORGE TOWN, Jan 11 — The Penang Consumers Association (CAP) has called on all stalls offering free food to devotees during Thaipusam celebrations to cut down on the portions so that unfinished food does not go to waste.

The association education officer NV Subbarow said each year, about 3,000 tonnes of food go to waste during Thaipusam celebrations.

“Each year, we will see half-eaten food being thrown away and this year, it will be the same so it is time to stop this cycle of food wastage,” he told a press conference today.

This year, Thaipusam celebrations starts on January 21 and about 120 ‘thaneer panthal’ or refreshment stalls will be set up along the road heading towards the Waterfall Temple in Penang.

Subbarow said these stalls will distribute free food and drinks to devotees thronging the temple during the celebrations.

“It is good to see more people giving out free food and drinks to devotees but we have to be careful that all these free food do not go to waste,” he said.

He claimed that there are devotees who would take several packets of free food per person but not eat it and end up throwing them away.

“Thaipusam is a sacred occasion so they should respect the food they were given as in Hinduism, devotees are taught to respect the food they are given because it is God-sent,” he said.

He also advised stall operators to hand over extra food to the National Food Bank so that these can be distributed to the less fortunate.

“Each stall should only give one packet of food per person so that the food does not go to waste and pack half portions for packets given to children,” he said.

According to the Solid Waste Corporation Management, Malaysians generate 16,687.5 tonnes of food waste daily.

Subbarow said this amount could easily feed 2 million people three times a day.

“Importantly, at least 3,000 tonnes of this daily food that is thrown away is still fit for consumption,” he said.

He said food wastage increases especially during festivals and celebrations like Thaipusam, which was why there is a need to raise awareness and remind the people not to waste food.

* A previous version of this story contained an error which has since been corrected.

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