Kerry McCarthy

Kerry McCarthy

New shadow environment secretary Kerry McCarthy has accused supermarkets of blaming consumers for food waste to get themselves “off the hook”, and has called for retailers to be “named and shamed”.

The Labour MP for Bristol East, who last week launched a Bill calling for new regulation to force individual supermarkets to disclose food waste levels across their entire supply chain, claimed lack of transparency had been used by the government as an “excuse for inaction.”

McCarthy was named as a member of new Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet yesterday, and set out her intentions by challenging the The Co-operative Food Group’s claim, after it signed a redistribution deal with food charity FareShare, that “only a tiny percentage” of food waste came from the grocery retail industry.

“Overall there’s more preventable food wasted by the food industry across the whole supply chain - just over half of all food waste - than by households,” McCarthy told The Grocer. 

Her Bill, which will receive its Second Reading in January, would require large supermarkets, manufacturers and distributors to reduce their food waste by no less than 30% by 2025, to enter into formal agreements with food redistribution organisations like FareShare, and disclose levels of food waste in their supply chain.

“Tesco has really led the way in publishing their own in-store waste figures and reporting on waste in their supply chain - providing data on where food waste occurs in the supply chain of their 25 most frequently purchased products,” she said.

“It should be possible to see how well individual supermarkets and manufacturers are performing, which could help to name and shame those that have been particularly slow to act, or to showcase those that are achieving significant reductions and demonstrating what it’s possible to achieve.”

As well as clashing with supermarkets on food waste, former party whip McCarthy looks set to be on collision course with the government over other environmental issues.

The patron of the Vegan Society and vice-president of the League against Cruel Sports has also been a leading campaigner against “overuse” of antibiotics in farming, and is opposed to the badger cull.