UK supermarket products with the worst environmental impact

Researchers have developed an algorithm that estimates the environmental impact on 57,000 products in the UK and Ireland. This will help consumers to make eco-friendly decisions.

Avoid supermarket aisles that are piled high with quiches, cheese, and pies. This is the conclusion of an analysis which found that they are the worst in terms of nutritional quality and environmental impact among the thousands of food products and drinks sold in the UK. If you’re looking to reduce carbon emissions and water consumption, then avoid meat and fish.

Most studies that have assessed the environmental impact of food so far have concentrated on agricultural commodities like beef and soybeans rather than lasagnes or tofu, which shoppers often purchase. When research has been done on consumer products, the focus has typically been on a limited number of products.

To bridge this gap,¬†Michael Clark¬†from the University of Oxford, along with his colleagues, analyzed over 57,000 food products and drinks sold in the UK. The team collected ingredient data from eight retailers, including Tesco and Sainsbury’s.

Only a small percentage of products had precise information on the amount of each ingredient. Clark and his team trained an algorithm to estimate the remaining effects. They used the UK regulations that require ingredients to be listed in decreasing order of quantity. The unit also linked the results to other studies.

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