France has passed a law banning supermarkets from throwing out unsold food, becoming the first country to pass such legislation.
Anti-poverty campaigners have been on a mission to keep supermarkets in France from wasting food, and their efforts have finally made a difference. Food banks and similar charities are ecstatic; they’re now taking on volunteers to help them with increasing donations.
The Guardian reports, “Now bosses of supermarkets with a footprint of 400 sq metres (4,305 sq ft) or more will have to sign donation contracts with charities or face penalties, including fines of up to €75,000 (£53,000) or two years’ imprisonment.”
In addition to the ban, supermarkets are prohibited from dousing unsold food with bleach, a practice that has kept foragers from eating food that has been thrown out. This is a tremendous step forward to feeding the hungry.
Why do supermarkets waste so much food in the first place? Part of this problem has to do with pleasing picky consumers. Mountains of beautiful fruit and overstocked shelves add visual appeal to the products. Supermarkets want to catch the eye of the consumers, so food is wasted to accommodate that need.
Sell-by dates present another problem. While food may still be good long after the date on the label, grocers typically don’t sell it once that date has passed. Because of this, the EU is considering scrapping sell-by dates altogether on produce, and making supermarkets place “expired” goods on sale instead of simply throwing them in the trash.
Now that a step has been taken to tackle supermarket waste and the ever-growing hunger problem, the next step is to tackle food waste at other establishments, such as restaurants. Arash Derambarsh, Courbevoie councilor, states, “This battle is only just beginning. We now have to fight food waste in restaurants, bakeries, school canteens and company canteens.”