French Food Waste Law Changing How Grocery Stores Approach Excess Food
The French are known for many things: fashion, technology, beauty and a love of the arts. France has also been one of the world centers of food and cuisine. The French place a great deal of emphasis on food and eating well. In addition, many French people wish to share their love of good food and eating with others. A new law in France is being designed to encourage French grocers to do even more to share any excess food with others who may not be able to afford to eat well.
Many people in France make weekly and even daily trips to the grocery store. Their aim is to find the freshest possible produce and the best quality meat, cheese, poultry, fish, bread and other items. Supermarkets have responded to the needs and wants of the market with a vast array of impressive choices. It's not uncommon to find hundreds of products in many of the largest chains. However, this bounty has had an unexpected downside: excess food. Many types of food have often gone to waste in the past despite being of high quality.
French officials are well aware of this problem. Given the high quality of many French food items, they have sought to make sure that nothing goes to waste if possible. Under the terms of a new French law, it's now no longer enough to avoid doing as much as possible as to avoid food waste. It's now a crime.
In July 2016, the French government took the issue of excessive food waste under consideration. At this time, the French parliament voted unanimously to force supermarkets to stop throwing away items that were still edible in some way. This means that the items in question could be used as food by people or used to feed animals.
Under the new law, supermarkets that have an area of 400m2 or larger are required to agree to sign contracts with charities that address the ongoing issues of poverty and hunger in France. Food costs per capita can be quite high relative to the rest of the world, making it hard for some people to afford to get enough calories. In doing so, they are required to agree to donate to such charities on a regular basis without agreeing to charge them for the food they are providing.
Those company managers and officials who did not agree to adhere to the terms of the new law are now faced with fines if they are caught. These fines can run as high seventy-five thousand Euros. In addition, grocery store owners and manager have been warned that failure to comply with the new laws governing food waste may also lead to prison terms. Those found to be in violation of the law can face up two years in jail. Each individual infraction of the law can cost the company forty-five hundred per violation per store.
Thousands of Charities to Benefit
In an effort to help make sure that every French resident always has enough to eat, there are roughly five thousand French charities. They are scattered across the whole of France from the northern industrial area to the relatively affluent south, as well as in Paris. Many people turn to them at least once a month including the elderly, who may be on a fixed income, and younger people with large families who face high housing costs in much of the country. Those who run the charities intended to serve the French poor are highly pleased with how the law has played out since it was implemented about two years ago.
Waste Food Law of Great Use
Food banks or Banques Alimentaires as they are known in France, state that the new law has led to an increase in quality and quantity of the items they are able to provide for their clients. They further state that many of the new items they are getting are of higher quality than before the law was passed. They are also finding that the new requirements mean that the items they get keep longer before they have to be thrown out. This enables the banks to feed more people and feed them the sort of high-quality items that have traditionally been a part of the overall French diet for centuries. In doing so, they have helped people in France stay in touch with their roots and appreciate the local produce and other products that remain a touchstone and source of pride for many residents.
Food Waste Is Still an Issue
Food waste is a common problem in much of the world. The average French person today is said to waste a great many kilograms of food each year. The same is true of many Americans. Excessive food often winds up filling landfills when it could be put to far better use. Fortunately, there are many ways that individuals, as well as chains, can help address this problem. In doing so, they can meet many goals at the same time. Much of the food being thrown away is still edible by any standard. Items such as fresh vegetables, fruit and bread may not be quite perfect but can still be turned into usable, tasty meals.
Changing the World
Given the success of the French, other companies and nations are considering similar laws. The new law appears to be a success as it has apparently led helped grocery managers learn to better manage the items they buy and store them in a way that minimizes waste. When grocery store managers can learn techniques to help reduce waste, this can have useful results for the consumer. Consumers can be assured of better quality items on the shelves and cheaper prices. Such cheaper grocery prices mean more people can avoid going hungry.
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