The proposal includes measures as an obligation for restaurants to offer their customers leftover food at no extra cost and in recyclable packaging. Offering the so-called ‘doggy bag’ is a phenomenon that has come over from the United States. If restaurants do not cooperate, they risk a fine of 2,000 euros.
Pioneering legal instrument
During his presentation at the press conference after the Council of Ministers, the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Luis Planas, emphasized that this is a pioneering legal instrument for creating ‘regulation and awareness’ and for addressing ‘inefficiencies in the food chain’. with economic, environmental and social consequences.
Planas said only France and Italy now have similar regulation in the EU, stressing that one of the goals is to raise awareness as 40 per cent of the loss happens in shops and homes and a further 20 per cent within other links in the food chain. The bill contains measures to prevent the possibility of a ‘food crisis’ and the need for food production in the world. The goal is to prevent food loss throughout the food chain, from harvest to consumption. In 2020, Spanish households lost 1.3 billion kilograms, an average of 31 kilograms per year.
Donate food surplus
In addition to catering and households, companies also play a role in the fight against food waste; they must record the destination of the food to prevent food being thrown out. The basic principle is that human consumption through donation or redistribution of food is a priority. In order to donate food surplus, parties in the food chain must enter into partnership agreements with companies, social initiatives and other non-profit organizations or food banks. These agreements must, among other things, explicitly state the conditions for collection, transport and storage of the products.
Social institutions receiving the profits must guarantee the traceability of the donated products through a system for recording the entry and exit of the food received and delivered. They may only use these products for donation, without having permission to market them under any circumstances, and they must do so without discrimination of any kind between the recipients.
Lots of unsold food destinations
Unsold foods that are in optimal condition should be processed into other foods, such as juice or jam. When foods are no longer fit for human consumption, they must be used for animal feed and animal feed production, as a by-product in other industries or as waste, and to provide compost or biofuels.
The Minister assures that consumers will have a ‘right’ to have catering companies make their uneaten leftovers available at no extra cost, except in open buffets, and that they must have food-safe and recyclable packaging for that purpose or easily recycled.
Sale of imperfect products and stretch expiration date
Other measures include requiring retailers to have sales channels for ‘ugly, imperfect or unaesthetic’ products, promoting the consumption of seasonal, local or organic products and promoting the sale of products with a best-before or expiration date.
Planas added that the government will adopt policies to adjust best-before dates to avoid waste, and will encourage parties in the food chain to maximize best-before dates for its products without compromising on quality.