French law to force supermarkets to donate unsold food

Joel Saget, AFP file picture | A food distribution takes place in the Parisian suburb of Courbevoie on January 26, 2015

French MPs on Thursday voted unanimously in favour of a new law that will outlaw the destruction of unsold food products, forcing large supermarkets instead to donate them to charities or for use on farms.


"It's scandalous to see bleach being poured into supermarket dustbins along with edible food," said Guillaume Garot, the Socialist MP who sponsored the bill, referring to one of the methods supermarkets use to prevent people from eating products from their refuse bins.

Under the new law, all larger supermarket chains must enter into contracts with charity groups to donate any unsold food that is still edible. The discarded food can also be used for animal feed and farming compost.

In addition to the tons of food wasted every year by the country’s supermarkets, the average French person is estimated to throw away between 20 and 30 kilograms (44 to 66 pounds) of food per year, altogether worth between €12 billion and €20 billion.

Thanks to the new legislation, the government hopes to halve France’s food waste by 2025.

Critics, however, say the new law will weigh heavily on the supermarkets, which will have to implement new and costly procedures to store and deliver their unsold products.

“Food waste only represents 5 percent of overall distribution, and this [law] would involve creating new procedures,” said Jacques Creyssel, the head of France’s main commerce and distribution federation, in a statement.

“We are the biggest [food] donors, with more than 4,500 stores having signed agreements with humanitarian groups,” he said, adding that his organisation would be urgently meeting with its members to evaluate the ramifications of the new law.

Some charities have also questioned how they will be able to afford or manage the logistics of sorting and distributing the donated food.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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