According to data from the European Commission (2012), almost 50% of healthy food is lost each year in the EU, by households, supermarkets, restaurants and in the food chain, while 79 million citizens live below the line poverty and 16 million depend on food aid charities.
Recently, France has decided to regulate this issue by focusing on the mass distribution sector. From July 2016, supermarkets of more than 400 m2 will have to donate unsold food products to NGOs specializing in food aid or to companies that produce agricultural fertilizers.
This measure is an action that is part of the French government’s plan to reduce the waste of this resource by half before 2050. It should be borne in mind that according to data from the European Commission (2012), supermarkets generate 5% of this waste, and that therefore other measures will be needed, especially in the domestic sphere (42%).
We believe that the efficiency of the measures will also depend on the legal framework that affects this issue. It is a complex issue, and apart from the regulations on waste reduction and prevention, other vectors such as those set out must be taken into account.
First, product labeling is a very important element of transparency and safety for the consumer. Clearly establish from what date the product becomes hazardous to human health (expiry date), and differentiate from the date from which the product reduces quality but does not become hazardous to human health (the date optimal usage limit).
It seems important to us that the labeling also integrates the necessary information to establish the traceability that guarantees the quality of the product when it is revalued.
Secondly, we must keep in mind the regulations that affect the transport of food and the use of food waste.
Third, we believe that the regulation of short circuits could help create a demand more suited to the needs of the consumer and thus reduce waste.
And fourth, we cannot ignore the regulation of property rights and liability in the case of a food donation. At what point does the supermarket cease to be responsible for the product?
At INSTA we are committed to providing analysis and legal tools that help create realistic and applicable measures at different scales. As in the case of Belgium, where some municipalities condition the renewal of activity licenses to measures to reduce food waste.
Can you imagine an ordinance from your city council to make it easier for usable food not to go to the trash but to families who need it?