France to force supermarkets to donate out-of-date food to food banks

On 3 February, the French Senate voted to approve a law that will forbid supermarkets from throwing away food that has passed or is approaching its best before date.

Instead the businesses will be compelled to offer the produce to food banks or other local charities.

The law grew from a grassroots campaign. The activists now plan to lobby the EU for a similar obligation across its 27 other member states – as well as extending its provisions to canteens, restaurants and bakeries.

Under the new law retail outlets with a floor space of over 400m2 will be obliged to sign a bond to donate waste food, or face a penalty charge of €3,750 ($4,200). Retailers will also be prohibited from deliberately destroying waste food, and food production facilities will be able to directly donate store-branded food to a charity.

The law has been well received by retailers – including France’s leading supermarket chain Carrefour – the public, and charities.

Speaking to the Guardian on 4 February, Jacques Bailet of French food banks coalition Banques Alimentaires, explains: ‘Because

supermarkets will be obliged to sign a donation deal with charities, we will be able to increase the quality and diversity of food we get and distribute.

‘In terms of nutritional balance, we currently have a deficit of meat, and a lack of fruit and vegetables. This [law] will hopefully allow us to push for those products.’

The same report estimates 7.1 million tonnes for food are wasted in France every year. Shops account for only around 780 tonnes of this however; while food waste from consumers (post-purchase) is over 5 million tonnes.

This article comes from Food Contact World, which provides exclusive news and analysis on developments in digital print trends, markets, and technologies.