France to force big supermarkets to give unsold food to charities

by Angelique Chrisafis

According to official estimates, the average French person throws out 20kg-30kg of food a year – 7kg of which is still in its wrapping. Photograph: Christopher Thomond for the Guardian

Legislation barring stores from spoiling and throwing away food is aimed at tackling epidemic of waste alongside food poverty

French supermarkets will be banned from throwing away or destroying unsold food and must instead donate it to charities or for animal feed, under a law set to crack down on food waste.

The French national assembly voted unanimously to pass the legislation as France battles an epidemic of wasted food that has highlighted the divide between giant food firms and people who are struggling to eat.
World leaders urged to tackle food waste to save billions and cut emissions
Read more

As MPs united in a rare cross-party consensus, the centre-right deputy Yves Jégo told parliament: “There’s an absolute urgency – charities are desperate for food. The most moving part of this law is that it opens us up to others who are suffering.”

Supermarkets will be barred from deliberately spoiling unsold food so it cannot be eaten. Those with a footprint of 4,305 sq ft (400 sq m) or more will have to sign contracts with charities by July next year or face penalties including fines of up to €75,000 (£53,000) or two years in jail.

“It’s scandalous to see bleach being poured into supermarket dustbins along with edible foods,” said the Socialist deputy Guillaume Garot, a former food minister who proposed the bill.