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France to ease 'best-by' rules to cut food waste

Ann Törnkvist · 14 Jun 2013, 10:03

Published: 14 Jun 2013 10:03 GMT+02:00

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Consumers in France who regularly find themselves arguing over whether or not to risk eating that slightly out-of-date yogurt, may have an easier time making their decision in the near future.

The Socialist government of French President François Hollande is set to allow supermarkets to sell drinks and food items for longer, and introduce a new label "Preferably to be consumed before."

It's all part of a larger policy initiative aimed at drastically cutting food waste, which is set to be unveiled on Friday.

Food and Agriculture Minister Guillaume Garot said the plan he promised during his election campaign will target every point in the food supply chain, from field to plate, via the supermarkets.

France aims to comply to an EU target of slicing food waste in half by 2025.

The pact asks industry actors to reduce portion sizes, while the government is also set to make it easier for companies to give food away.

The supermarkets, meanwhile, will be able to keep products on sale for longer, as the government moves to scrap the current restrictions that determine best-before dates on food and drinks.

The wording will also be replaced by the consumer advice "preferably to be consumed before". 

Garot called the food waste "scandalous and profoundly unfair," according to RTL radio station, and has asked all industry actors to sign up to the new pact.

The UN estimates that food waste worldwide each year is a staggering 1.3 billion tonnes.

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Novel measures to combat food waste have already been taken on a project-level. Paris Deputy Mayor Pauline Véron made sure left-overs from this month's mammoth French Open tournament did not end up in the bin.

The French weeky Le Journal de Dimanche reported that 90 kilogrammes of cheese from the major tennis tournament instead made its way to families in need, along with 300 kilogrammes of bread.

In total, about 2,000 economically vulnerable Parisians, including those without permanent homes, were able to benefit from the initiative. 

Ann Törnkvist (ann.tornkvist@thelocal.com)

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