The primary focus of food waste prevention should be to act directly at source by limiting the generation of surplus food at each stage in the food supply chain (i.e. production, processing, distribution and consumption). If this cannot be achieved, the best destination for food surplus, which ensures the highest value use of edible food resources, is to redistribute this food for human consumption where safe to do so.
As part of the Circular Economy Action Plan, the Commission has adopted EU food donation guidelines in order to facilitate the recovery and redistribution of safe, edible food to those in need. Developed in consultation with the EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste, the EU food donation guidelines seek to:
- facilitate compliance of providers and recipients of surplus food with relevant requirements laid down in the EU regulatory framework (e.g. food safety, food hygiene, traceability, liability, VAT, etc.);
- promote common interpretation by regulatory authorities in the EU Member States of EU rules applying to the redistribution of surplus food.
EU Food Donation Guidelines adopted on 16 October 2017
The Commission has launched a pilot project for the period of 2018-2020 to further assess food donation practices in the Member States and promote the dissemination and uptake of the EU food donation guidelines.
The project mapped regulatory and policy frameworks of Member States put in place in relation to food redistribution. The relevant report was published on 25 June 2020:
Food redistribution in the EU:
Mapping and analysis of existing regulatory and policy measures impacting food redistribution from EU Member States
In the context of the pilot project, a document has been prepared to illustrate how Member States implement EU rules to facilitate food donation in practice. The document follows the structure of the EU guidelines on food donation, in order to facilitate information sharing according to specific areas of legislation (e.g. food hygiene, food information to consumers etc.). It addresses areas where EU legislation prevails (e.g. on food hygiene, labelling, VAT etc.), as well as those governed by national rules (e.g. liability, other taxation). The document has been prepared based on contributions received from members of the EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste and will be updated on a regular basis.
A subgroup of the EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste, dedicated to the issue of food donation, supports the Commission's work in this area and facilitates sharing of experience and best practice amongst Platform members.