European MEPs have ‘unanimously’ backed calls for a 50% reduction in the amount of food wasted in Europe by 2030.
The new measure is an attempt to cut down on the 88 million tonnes of food wasted in the European Union (EU) every year. MEPs called on the European Commission to lift existing restrictions on food donations and stressed a solution is needed for the confusion created by the ‘best before’ and ‘use by’ labelling on food products.
“In developed countries food is wasted mostly at the end of the chain, at distribution and consumption. Everyone has a responsibility to tackle this problem”, said lead MEP Biljana Borzan. “My report calls for a coordinated policy response on labelling, liability and education, as most consumers do not understand the precise meaning of best before and use by labelling.
“Moreover, we should address the shortcomings of existing EU legislation where it hinders food donations. We need to update our common VAT system to allow for tax exemptions. A form of ‘good Samaritan’ legislation at EU level could lead to greater volumes of food being donated and reducing food being wasted, without compromising current standards of food safety.”
The 50% reduction in food waste will be targeted by 2030, with an interim target of 30% reduction by 2025.
MEPs reiterated the need for national authorities and stakeholders to educate consumers on the difference between ‘use by’, ‘sell by’ and ‘best before’ dates, and the usability of various foodstuffs once the best before date has expired.
The commission will now assess the possible benefits of removing certain dates for products without risking public health or the environment.
The commission should also propose a change in the VAT directive that would explicitly authorise tax exemptions on food donations, MEPs said.
The report will be put to a vote in Strasbourg next month.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019