France has banned its supermarkets from throwing away unsold food that could soon go bad. The country now mandates large stores to give away unwanted food to charities and food banks.
France has become the first country in the world to ban supermarkets from throwing away or destroying unsold food. The country is the first to force large stores to donate their unsold or surplus perishable stock to charities and food banks. The step would undoubtedly ensure that the food that otherwise goes to waste is fed to those unfortunate souls who can’t afford even a decent meal.
Under a law passed unanimously by the French senate, large shops will no longer be allowed to discard good quality food approaching its best-before date. The unsold food, which could soon go bad, will instead head to various charities that manage food distribution to the needy. Such charities have always found it hard to maintain decent supply for the ever-growing queue of people who are struggling to afford to eat, reported the Guardian.
Now that food banks, who are deeply appreciative of the legislature, have been assured of being the lawful recipient of food, they will will now joyfully begin the task of convincing volunteers and transportation services, as well as agencies that will lend their refrigerators, to handle all the extra food heading their way from shops and food companies.
— Farming First (@farmingfirst) February 3, 2016
The decision comes after a similarly staunch show of support from the French National Assembly to the bill that was introduced in May by the former food industry minister Guillaume Garot, reported Yahoo.
The law was passed after a petition was launched by Courbevoie councilor Arash Derambarsh. The petition garnered steam and was upheld by shoppers, anti-poverty campaigners, and those who strongly opposed rampant food waste. Now that France has taken a decisive step to stop wastage of food by supermarkets, campaigners are hopeful of convincing the European Union to adopt similar legislation across all or least a decent number of member states, added Derambarsh,
“The next step is to ask the president, François Hollande, to put pressure on Jean-Claude Juncker and to extend this law to the whole of the EU.”
Speaking about the legislature, Jacques Bailet from Banques Alimentaires, a network of Food banks, said,
“Most importantly, because supermarkets will be obliged to sign a donation deal with charities, we’ll 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 will hopefully allow us to push for those products.”
Besides the food imbalance, France’s law could be extended to other establishments that routinely process large quantities of food on a daily basis. There are many other locations like restaurants, bakeries, school canteens, and company canteens that regularly discard unconsumed food, noted Derambarsh. With the right push, such establishments too could be mandated by law to hand over the leftover food to charities and food banks.
In the past, supermarkets have gone to great lengths to keep desperate foragers away from food that was officially discarded. Instead of willingly giving away food that’s about to be binned, many supermarkets instead chose to pour bleach over it. In some cases, stores would lock up discarded food in warehouses, until garbage collection agencies picked it up.
Cooking Tip: "Best by” dates are only food manufacturer suggestions for quality, and unregulated. Reduce food waste by judging for yourself.
— Jerry James Stone (@jerryjamesstone) February 4, 2016
Under the new law, supermarkets won’t be allowed to deliberately spoil food in order to stop it from being eaten by foragers. The law is applicable to any supermarket that is spread over 400 square meters or more, reported the Independent. If stores are found to flout the law or throw away food that hasn’t gone bad, they could face a steep fine of €3750. While the fine itself could be considered a strong deterrent, repeat offenders might be further penalized.
[Photo by Miguel Medina/Getty Images]