Monday, 3 February 2014

Poll: was the CPS right to drop charges against ‘skip-divers’?

The recent news that three men were to be charged under the 190-year-old Vagrancy Act for taking food from an Iceland supermarket skip has put the subject of food waste and food want back in the spotlight.

The CPS have now dropped the charges, but many people, including Iceland's CEO Malcolm Walker (who claims to have been unaware of the case before the media storm hit), have asked why it was brought in the first place.

So, were Paul May, Jason Chan and William James justified in taking the food from the skip? After all, they entered secure premises and removed items (tomatoes, mushrooms, cheese and Mr Kipling cakes, reportedly) that didn’t belong to them. The Daily Mail refers to the dropping of the charges as "a licence to steal".

Or is Iceland to blame for wasting food in the first place? In its statement of 29 January, Iceland claimed that it only disposes of food that is past its use-by date because of the potential health and safety risk it could pose to the public, but some food waste seems almost inevitable.

Take part in our poll below and let us know what you think.

Was CPS right to drop charges against ‘skip-divers’?
Poll Maker

Waste not, want not

Food waste is a subject we’ve looked at before; according to a recent report by the non-profit organisation WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme), consumers are responsible for almost 50 per cent of the food that's wasted each year in the UK. We throw away seven million tonnes a year at a cost of £12.5bn.

So if you’ve got food in your fridge or cupboard that needs to be used up, here’s our handy guide on what to do with leftover ingredients.

Do you have any tips for preventing food waste? We’d love to hear them. Tell us about them using the comments box below.

And finally, what would you make with tomatoes, mushrooms and cheese to serve before your Mr Kipling cake?!


  1. A great tip i have found (from the Abel and Cole veg box book, I believe) is if your carrots are going limp and wrinkly, pop them in some cold water in the fridge overnight and they'll firm right back up. It's amazing!

  2. We have no leftovers in our fridge as we have two teenagers who eat everything in sight and more! All it has taken is a little instruction (on their part) and a packet of post-its! When they leave home I will reduce the amount I cook. Clare

  3. Keep backyard chickens, they eat almost anything, then lay eggs for me.

  4. How can taking something that someone has thrown in a skip and clearly doesn't want anymore be regarded as stealing? It's not as if they went in and took the stuff from the shelves.

  5. Obvious point I know - Always check dates and pick stuff from the back of the chiller shelf when shopping in the major supermarkets as this usually has the longest lifespan

  6. Open tart with reduced tomatoes, sauteed mushrooms and grated cheese on puff pastry, or pizza base.
    Trying to stick to list when shopping and allowing 2 impulse buys. Buy 1 get 1 free should be banned! Just halve the price.

  7. I used to waste a lot of bread but now I blitz it into breadcrumbs or crouton's and the bread crumbs I fry in olive oil for pangritta

  8. I think that all the supermarkets ought to set up a scheme whereby homeless shelters and food banks can make use of all this food that is being needlessly thrown away. I come from an era before sell-by and use-by dates - if it wasn't mouldy or smelling off it was good to eat. I'm sure there are thousands of people who would rather eat supermarket leftovers than starve! It's obscene the amount that is thrown away - if supermarkets do not want to donate leftover products in this way they should not produce so much in the first place, and lower their prices so that the lower paid and more vulnerable people can afford to buy them in the first place!