Law: French supermarkets must adhere to strict new rules on food waste
Supermarkets in France have been banned from destroying unsold food in a bid to tackle the country's massive £14bn-worth of annual waste.
The French parliament passed a new law obliging the food retail giants to give any excess to charities or for other use.
The national assembly voted unanimously to pass the measure on Thursday which had been proposed by the Socialist deputy Guillaume Garot.
Mr Garot said: “It’s scandalous to see bleach being poured into supermarket dustbins along with edible foods."
The legislation prevents supermarkets deliberately spoiling unsold food so it can't be eaten, the Guardian reports.
Supermarket giants will have to sign contracts with charities by next July or face penalties of up to £53,000.
The new law even includes provision for a jail term of up to two years for non-compliance.
The measure is being introduced as France tries to halve its annual bill for food waste.
The law includes an education programme on food waste for schools and employers - while another measure introduced earlier this year reportedly required the removal of best before dates on fresh food.
A spokesman for the The Fédération du Commerce et de la Distribution - body which represents big food retailers - said the law was "wrong in both target and intent, given the big stores represent only 5% of food waste but have these new obligations.
“They are already the pre-eminent food donors, with more than 4,500 stores having signed agreements with aid groups.”
The move comes after a desperate British couple appeared in court earlier this month afterbeing arrested for stealing out-of-date food from supermarket bins.
Money: Kerry Barker said she and her husband were reduced to stealing reduced price food because their benefits were cut
Paul and Kerry Barker swiped chicken wings, bread and cheese from a locked Tesco compound at night but Paul was shown mercy by a judge who asked: “How are they supposed to live?”
The couple, who have two children, said they had been reduced to theft because their benefits were cut.
Paul pleaded guilty to theft but District Judge Roger Elsey did not impose court costs and said he could not enforce a penalty because they are struggling.
The judge added: “How are they expected to live? It seems to me the appropriate punishment for taking food which is of no value is an absolute discharge.”
In a statement, Tesco said: “Working with the charity FareShare, we have already distributed over three million meals of surplus food to people in need.
“We are working on ways to make sure more surplus food is donated in this way.
“It is not safe to take food from bins and that is why we work with charities to redistribute surplus food that is safe to eat to people who need it.”