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Entertainment, Food & Beverage

Recycling solution to food waste in Singapore, Minister Khaw cites 'Okara floss' as an example of a practical solution to issue

Okara floss being used to season Japanese rice. The mock meat floss is made from recycled soya bean pulp
The Straits Times - July 11, 2013
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Recycling solution to food waste in Singapore, Minister Khaw cites 'Okara floss' as an example of a practical solution to issue

MINISTER for National Development Khaw Boon Wan yesterday gave his take on the mounting problem of food waste in Singapore, saying the answer lies in coming up with "practical" solutions.

One such example he gave is "Okara floss", a vegetarian mock meat floss created from a by-product of soya bean.

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) came up with the snack by recycling soya bean pulp, or Okara in Japanese, he wrote in a blogpost praising the effort. "It is tasty!" he added.

Soya bean pulp are the insoluble parts left behind when soya beans are pureed and filtered to make soya bean milk.

At least 30 tonnes of the pulp is produced daily in Singapore, he noted, adding: "Currently, it is disposed off as food waste at a cost to the companies, or for use as an animal feed."

The Okara floss made its debut at the ministry's Urban Sustainability Research and Development Congress last week.

Other by-products the AVA is working on to recycle into "wholesome food products" are mussel extract, fish trimmings and brewery spent grains.

These moves are part of an AVA initiative to strengthen Singapore's food resilience.

Food waste is at a peak in Singapore, soaring to 703,200 tonnes last year, a 26 per cent rise from 558,900 tonnes in 2007.

It far outpaced a 15.7 per cent growth in population during the period.

"With millions around the world starving or malnourished, it is not right that good food is wasted in Singapore," Mr Khaw said, inviting companies to market Okara floss commercially.

The National Environment Agency had attributed the spike in food waste to population growth, a rise in tourist arrivals and increasing affluence.

It is made worse by the easy access to and wide variety of food, added the Singapore Environment Council (SEC).

The amount of food being recycled, however, remains low each year. Last year, only about 12 per cent of food waste was recycled.

As such, AVA's move to recycle food by-products into edible food was cheered by SEC's executive director Jose Raymond.

"Since disposing food waste costs money to companies, turning it into a useful product for sale makes perfect sense."

However, he warned that initially, people might recoil at recycled food, believing it is "dirty or impure". "But I'm certain that over time, people will accept that recycled food, like Newater, is here for good."

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