France's parliament has voted to forbid big supermarkets from destroying unsold food as part of a national campaign against food waste. The amendment approved by the National Assembly (the lower house of Parliament) late yesterday is part of a larger environmental bill and would require big supermarket chains to donate goods no longer fit for sale to charities or to farms for use as animal feed or compost. That includes goods that were packaged wrong or damaged but remain edible, or that are past a recommended use-by date but are not dangerous to eat. Foods that are past a firm expiration date would go to farms. The overall environmental bill will go to a vote Tuesday in the Assembly, then to the Senate; it's likely to pass in both houses.
Environmental groups welcomed the vote, in a country where it's estimated 44 to 66 pounds of food are wasted per person each year. The government announced in 2012 that it wants to reduce food waste by 50% by 2025. But the Retail and Trade Federation says large supermarkets are being disproportionately targeted by the bill and that the sector already donates thousands of tons to charity annually. French supermarket chains have been publicizing their efforts to fight waste: Intermarche, for instance, gained attention last year with an advertising campaign encouraging consumers to buy ugly fruits and vegetables so that supermarkets wouldn't have to toss them in the garbage. (Read more France stories.)