Getting safe surplus food to those who need it most

In the EU, around 90 million tons of foods are wasted yearly (2006 estimate), while 55 million people suffer from food poverty, according to the President of the European Federation of Food Banks.

Food donation is a key lever in Europe’s solutions both to reduce food waste and alleviate food poverty and social exclusion.

This is the core mission of food banks, which also raise the awareness of food businesses, public authorities and civil society. In addition, a harmonised European approach would both facilitate the access to food sources and offer significant benefits for the abovementioned stakeholders in terms of resource efficiency and food security, as well as economic gains for business operators. Recommendations for harmonisation include:

  • Further clarification of EU and Member States food legislation (e.g. use of “best before” dates), food hygiene and VAT base.
  • Tax or financial incentives to help ensure donating surplus food does not cost more than disposing of it for other uses.
  • Industry-charity donation guides which clarify liability and encourage businesses to embed redistribution mechanisms in their supply chain processes.
  • Financial support for Food Banks to increase their operating capacity and cover fresh products transformation or transport costs.

Tackling such a variety of issues, and in certain cases shortcomings, as well as defining new opportunities to help ensure that safe, surplus food is made available to people in need requires active collaboration amongst all players, as for instance through the Stakeholder Working Group on Food Losses and Waste chaired by DG Health and Food Safety (SANTE).

For more information about food safety on the ec.europa.eu website

For more information about food waste on the same website