It’s illegal for supermarkets in France to waste food.

Post First Published: 10/08/2022 7:03 PM Post First Updated: 9/09/2022 11:22 AM

France has become the first country in the world to ban supermarkets from throwing away or destroying unsold food, forcing them instead to donate it to charities and food banks.

According to a law that the French senate unanimously approved in 2016, large stores won’t throw out high-quality food that is getting close to its best-before date as of this Wednesday.  Charities will be able to provide millions more low-income individuals with free meals each year.

The law is the result of a grassroots effort in France by consumers, anti-poverty activists, and food waste opponents.  Councilman Arash Derambarsh launched the initiative that resulted in a petition. 

The issue was addressed by a measure that Guillaume Garot, a former minister of the food industry, sponsored and which was approved by the national assembly in December.

Now, activists are trying to get the EU to enact uniform legislation for all of its members. Food banks have praised the bill, and they will immediately start looking for more volunteers, lorries, storage space, and refrigerators to accommodate an increase in donations from stores and food producers.

Additionally, supermarkets won’t be allowed to purposefully degrade food to prevent foragers from consuming it. 

Families, students, the unemployed, and the homeless have all been using supermarket trash cans as a source of food in France in recent years. 

Edible goods have been discovered to be thrown out when their best-before dates drew near.

READ: 19 Things About French Supermarkets That Are Low-Key Fascinating

To prevent food illness from goods removed from bins, several retailers reportedly sprayed food in bleach before placing it in the trash. 

Other supermarkets purposefully disposed of food in secured storage for garbage trucks to pick up.

Now, owners of supermarkets with a footprint of 400 square metres (4,305 square feet) or more are required to establish agreements with charity about donations or pay a fine of €3,750 (£2,900).

The president of the French food bank network Banques Alimentaires, Jacques Bailet, characterised the bill as “good and very significant symbolically.” 

He claimed that it would significantly boost a trend that is currently taking hold in which shops give to food banks.


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