EU law could stop retailers wasting food

Labour MEP Emer Costello has called for government debate on whether to encourage supermarkets to waste less food by introducing legislation already in place in Belgium.

Across the EU, it’s estimated that retailers are responsible for up to 45 per cent of all food wasted, as they throw out misshapen vegetables or products close to their “Best Before” or “Use By” dates. However, this is no longer the case in Belgium, where the government abolished the VAT last year on food donated to food banks. The move has already seen a significant increase in food donation by major multiples.

Speaking from Brussels, Costello said a staggering 90 million tonnes of food is wasted in the EU every year, even though 43 million people can’t afford to eat a basic meal on a regular basis. She welcomed plans to open Ireland’s first Bia Food Bank in Cork’s Little Island this June, followed by similar facilities in Dublin and Galway.

However, Ms Costello said it’s also important that consumers play their part by being more savvy about the type and quantity of food they buy, in order to prevent unnecessary waste.

“Too often we jump at special bulk offers that then lie in the fridge for weeks until they go off,” she said.

Meanwhile, Independent MEP Nessa Childers, pointed out that austerity policies are also responsible for approximately 600,000 people in Ireland suffering from food poverty. “One in five children go to school hungry; this is surely proof positive that our economic policies need to change,” she said.

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