France legally obligates supermarkets to turn over unsold food to charities
In a recent landmark ruling, the French senate has made it illegal for supermarkets larger than 400 square meters to throw away unsold food. Instead, supermarket owners will have to sign a donation contract, turning over the unsold food to charitable institutions. Non-compliance with this policy will see supermarket bosses shelling out up to 75,000 Euros in fines or spending up to two years in prison.
The law further states that it will be illegal for supermarket employees to spoil unsold food, for example, by pouring bleach over it—a practice done by shops to discourage people from rummaging through their garbage bins.
What began as a petition campaign by politician Arash Derambarsh, the new law is seen as a welcome development by Jacques Bailet, head of Banques Alimentaires, a group of French food banks. “Most importantly… 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,” explained Bailet.
For their part, the law mandates charities to collect and store the food themselves. Food must also be handed out in shelters and centers and not merely distributed on the streets.
France wastes an estimated 7.1 million tons of food yearly (11% by shops, 15% by restaurants, and 67% by consumers.)