The French government has made it illegal for supermarkets to destroy or throw away unsold food. Now the supermarkets have to donate this food to charities or make sure it is used for animal feed. This law is intended to decrease the amount of food waste. When voting for this measure, the French national assembly has united in a cross-party consensus. Consensus of this kind happens very rarely. But there is a good reason for this.
This legislation comes at a time when France is experiencing an epidemic of wasted food. While the multinational food firms are reaping huge profits, people are struggling to eat.
This measure bars supermarkets from spoiling unsold food and requires them to sign contracts with charities. Supermarkets have to sign these contracts by July of next year.
This bill was proposed by the Socialist deputy Guillaume Garot who used to be food minister and was outraged by supermarkets throwing away perfectly good food. The other catalysts of this bill are direct action foraging movements and pressure groups, as well as recycling commandos. Yet another catalyst of this measure was the French media. In recent years, the French media have shown how people with very low income level have foraged supermarket bins at night to find food for themselves. Some supermarkets started dousing thrown-away food in bleach. Other supermarkets started storing the thrown-away food in locked warehouses. Both of these actions have made the lives of individuals with very low income much harder.
Some people foraging supermarket bins were arrested by police and jailed for theft. In 2011, a father of six was apprehended by security for searching through a trash bin. He was working for a minimum wage.