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New Food Law Will Protect Consumers and Reduce Waste

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Once it is finally approved, most likely in the early part of 2023, Spain will have a pioneering law on food loss and waste. The regulations will serve to prevent inefficiencies in the food chain, from harvest to consumption, which will have economic, environmental, and ethical consequences.

The bill on food losses and waste is the first regulation in Spain on this matter. The rule will oblige, as soon as the deadlines are determined, all the agents of the food chain (producers, manufacturers, and distributors with more than 1,300 square metres of sales room) to have a loss and waste prevention plan. If they do not comply, it will be considered an infraction, punishable by sanctions of between 2,000 and 500,000 euro.

The law is also a pioneer in the European Union: only France and Italy have a similar regulation. In the words of the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Luis Planas, this provision represents an important opportunity, since “right now we are talking about the possibility of a food crisis and the need for food production in the world.”

Food waste
Image by Tomasz Brzozowski from Pixabay

Likewise, the bill establishes a hierarchy for the use of food before it is wasted:

Human consumption

Producers and distributors must donate to non-profit entities the products that have not been put up for sale, as long as they are within the dates indicated as preferential consumption.

Transformation

Food that has passed this time, and provided that it is in optimal conditions for consumption, must be transformed into other products, such as juices or jams.

Animals

If they cannot be used for human consumption, they will be used in the manufacture of feed.

By-products in another industry

Those that are not worth for animal feed will have to be used as by-products for other industries. For example, the remains of grapes from winemaking are used in the cosmetics industry.

Recycled

As waste, they will be used to obtain compost, biogas, or fuel.

How can it affect the consumer?

The consumer will be one of the beneficiaries of the new norm, since you will also, legally, be able to take home food that you don´t finish in a restaurant, for which the restaurant must provide a suitable receptacle, and you will also have access to food with a reduced price due to proximity expiration.

Here are the points to keep in mind:

Food is not thrown away

Hospitality companies are obliged to give customers the food they have not consumed in a container and at no additional cost.

Good practices to avoid waste

Commercial establishments, for example, can enable sales lines for “ugly, imperfect or unattractive” products. Good practices also include promoting the consumption of seasonal, proximity or organic products.

Flexibility of menus

Customers will be able to choose side dishes or portions of different sizes.

Prevent food from expiring

The sale of foods with a best before date or expiration date should be encouraged, provided they are suitable for consumption. The Government plans to undertake training and informative actions to help users interpret these two variables.

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