French Regulators Force Supermarkets to Donate Unsold Food to Charity

By Jonathan Zhou, Epoch Times
February 9, 2016 Updated: February 10, 2016

Starting Feb. 10, supermarkets in France will be required by law to donate unsold food items to charities and food banks, the Guardian reports.

The law, passed unanimously by the French Senate, forbids supermarkets for throwing away quality food products approaching their best-by date.

The new law is the result of a long campaign by activists to procure more resources for the poor. France had previously passed a similar version of the law in May of 2015, but it was non-binding and required agreement from the supermarkets, reports

When the non-binding law was first introduced, local residents said that it was flouted by private businesses.

“Living in Paris, this law is clearly not respected…at all,” Reddit user SJaggz wrote in November of 2015.

The new law will have more teeth, and supermarkets larger than 4,305 square feet will have to sign agreements with charities or face a roughly $4,200 fine (3,750 euro).

“Because supermarkets will be obliged to sign a donation deal with charities, we’ll be able to increase the quality and diversity of food we get and distribute,” Jacques Bailet, head of Banques Alimentaires, a network of French food banks, told the Guardian.

“In terms of nutritional balance, we currently have a deficit of meat and a lack of fruit and vegetables. This will hopefully allow us to push for those products,” said Bailet.

Tomatoes for sale in the Midi-Pyrenees region, France, Sept. 20, 2012. (Pascal Pavani/AFP/GettyImages)
Tomatoes for sale in the Midi-Pyrenees region, France, Sept. 20, 2012. (Pascal Pavani/AFP/GettyImages)

Supermarkets will also be forbidden from intentionally ruining their expired food with ingredients like bleach, which is often used to prevent foragers from eating discarded food out of dumpsters.

France is estimated to waste 7.1 million tons of food per year, according to one commonly cited figure.