Italy will soon pass a law to ensure unsold food at supermarkets makes its way to the unprivileged and not to the landfills. The legislature mandating supermarkets donate their surplus food to charity appears to be following France’s footsteps intended to end food wastage.
Italy will likely soon pass a law that urges supermarkets, bars, and restaurants to donate their unsold food rather than throwing it out. Interestingly, the country appears to be formulating an incentive plan that will make donating surplus stock a lucrative option as compared to sending it out to a landfill. The country will be second in the world, as well as in the European Union (EU), to pass such laws.
France was the first country in the world to introduce such legislature. However, while the French opted to threaten the supermarkets with penalties if they failed to transfer the unsold food to charities, Italy appears to have taken a much lenient route that rewards the stores for donating their stock that’s past its optimum sell-by date, but can still be safely consumed.
Italy’s unsold food bill has been well received. According to the Times of India, the bill has received widespread bipartisan support and is expected to pass the lower house of the parliament on Monday before a final vote in the Senate of the Republic.
French politician Arash Derambarsh, who is currently trying to pass EU-wide legislation that will force supermarkets to give away waste food, previously said, “The problem is simple – we have food going to waste and poor people who are going hungry.”
Food wastage is a modern-day epidemic in developed as well as developing countries. Staggering amounts of products are shipped to supermarkets and grocery chains. However, a lot of food that goes unsold is simply discarded. Many supermarkets even pour bleach over the food that’s discarded to discourage those who dive into the dumpsters, scavenging for food. Quite a few stores pull in their dumpsters and keep them locked until taken away by the garbage collection agencies.
A study conducted in 2013 found that up to half of the world’s food goes to waste, reported CNN. The majority of the food hasn’t gone bad but is still discarded.
Speaking about the unsold food law, Italy’s Agriculture Minister, Maurizio Martina said, “We are making it more convenient for companies to donate than to waste. We currently recover 550 million tons of excess food each year but we want to arrive at one billion in 2016.”
Needless to say, the great initiative spearheaded by France and taken up by Italy represents the attempts to address a global problem. Interestingly, instead of penalizing vendors for wasting food, Italy is considering rewarding its supermarkets for donating unsold food to charity. Currently, the country mandates any Italian bar, restaurant, or supermarket looking to donate food to declare the donations in advance. The law proposes significant reductions in “rubbish taxes.” These would vary in accordance with the amount of food that is transferred to the charities. The bill also seeks to do away with the declarations. This will allow supermarkets to dynamically alter their donations based on their stock and a food’s expiration date, reported SBS.
The food that is considered surplus is many a time perfectly fine to consume. Hence, 17 articles in the bill include an appeal to amend food safety regulation. These changes will allow businesses to donate food after its “best before” date is expired.
Even before France had begun mandating its supermarkets to donate unsold food, private companies like Tesco had begun to voluntarily seek techniques to minimize and eventually end the food wastage.
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