CHAPTER 4: EU Regulation |
103. The ability of the food supply chain to
prevent and reduce food waste is affected by the regulatory framework
in which it sits. We heard examples of the unintended, or perceived,
impact on food waste of various EU regulations across different
policy areas. We explore these in this chapter, divided into a
number of different policy areas, including: the influence of
the CAP; policies that may help or hinder surplus food being redistributed
or used in animal feed; the ban on the discard of fish; food hygiene
regulations; food labelling; and packaging issues. EU waste policy
is relevant but, aside from packaging waste, is covered in Chapter
The impact of EU regulation on
104. In the light of the identified impacts on
food waste of wider EU policies, we enquired as to whether the
European Commission systematically assesses the impact on food
waste of its policies. No information was identifiable on such
an approach by the Commission. The inquiry heard from the Dutch
government that there is certainly a lack of coordination across
the Commission on the matter. Whilst policy makers were considered
to be taking the topic of food waste prevention seriously, there
is an issue surrounding the division of responsibilities.
105. The "Every Crumb Counts" Joint
Food Wastage Declaration by stakeholders across the food supply
chain argued that Commission Impact Assessments on proposals across
policy areas should take food waste into account. In support of
this, the FDF cited a Commission proposal to include a mandatory
date of catch or date of landing on fisheries products. This was
eventually removed in the course of negotiations as there was
little link between such a date and the condition in which the
product would eventually reach the consumer, but it may have led
to consumer confusion and to the discard of a food product at
a date when the product remained safe for consumption.
106. A move towards ensuring that EU law is fit
for purpose was made in late 2013, when the Commission published
its Regulatory Fitness and Performance (REFIT) Programme.
The first stages of that Programme included a fitness check of
the food chain, which concluded that the EU's General Food Law
should be subject to a full evaluation under the REFIT exercise.
107. We detect no systematic attempt across
the European Commission to assess the impact on food waste of
its policies. We therefore recommend the establishment of a cross-Departmental
working group on the issue. We welcome the recommendation that
an evaluation of the General Food Law should form part of the
Commission's Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme. We
recommend that its remit extend to consider the impact on food
waste prevention of EU legislation beyond that Law.
Common Agricultural Policy
108. Food waste prevention is not an explicit
objective of the CAP, and did not feature in recent negotiations
to reform the CAP.
It was noted, though, that the indirect effect of improving agricultural
competitiveness and productivity should be to reduce food waste.
109. We have previously considered the issue
of boosting the competitiveness of EU agriculture through innovation.
A critical issue is ensuring that information is available to
farmers, primarily through Farm Advice Systems. Similarly important
is the exchange of information between researchers, manufacturers,
retailers and producers, systems to support which have been identified
in the reformed CAP. These include the new European Innovation
Partnership (EIP) on Sustainable and Productive Agriculture.
110. The UK Government have confirmed that they
expect to provide support for UK engagement in the EIP.
In evidence to us, they also pointed to the launch of the UK's
Agri-Tech Strategy, which includes an objective to avoid surplus
111. Certain other aspects of the CAP could help
to promote food waste prevention. One such example was rural development
funding. According to the NFU, rural development programmes could
support investment in agricultural production techniques which
would improve crop standards, and in the development of new markets
for lower value products. By improving crop standards, less food
might be rejected by retailers and subsequently wasted, whilst
new markets for lower value food could have a similar effect,
with alternative routes for producers.
112. Another example was the common agricultural
market element of the CAP. This was most recently revised in December
2013 in the context of CAP reform.
This provides for a fruit and vegetable scheme including funding
to support on-farm investment in relevant technology, such as
storage. It requires Producer Organisations (POs)
to be in place, which is not a norm in the UK. A recent Report
from the Commission on operation of the scheme highlighted problems
across the EU in terms of access to POs and, therefore, to the
scheme. The UK
Government confirmed that they were working with the Commission
and some other Member States to determine how the scheme might
be operated in a simpler manner.
113. The common agricultural market Regulation
also sets the framework for the continuation of marketing standards
for fruit and vegetables.
These standards are designed to facilitate the trade of agricultural
goods through the EU. Most fruit and vegetables are subject to
general marketing standards. Presently, 10 products
are subject to more stringent standards, which set different provisions
for separate classes of products: Extra Class, Class I and Class
II. Defra considered the standards to be helpful.
There was some call for further relaxation of them, or at least
reconsideration as to their impact on food waste.
KBT argued that, where quality standards are set, they should
be set for the right reasons.
114. The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)
does not aim explicitly to prevent food waste. Nevertheless, a
move towards a more competitive agricultural industry, as is the
intention of the reformed CAP, should have the effect of reducing
waste on-farm. The CAP offers methods to accelerate that progress.
In implementing the CAP, we recommend that the UK Government consider
on-farm food waste prevention as an integral part of the policy,
given the clear economic benefits of doing so. Such consideration
should include: the fruit and vegetable scheme; the provision
of appropriate farm advice; access to the European Innovation
Partnership; and rural development funding.
115. We recommend that the European Commission
prepares guidance on the use of CAP instruments to support on-farm
food waste prevention, particularly through the Rural Development
Regulation and the Common Organisation of the Markets Regulation.
116. We consider that an assessment of the
impact on food waste of marketing standards for fresh fruit and
vegetables would be particularly useful and should form part of
the European Commission's evaluation of food law within its Regulatory
Fitness and Performance Programme.
Ban on the discard of fish
117. In 2013, legislation was agreed that overhauled
the rules governing the Common Fisheries Policy.
It includes an obligation to land all catches of species that
are subject to EU restrictions. This obligation, known as the
'discard ban' will come into force over the period 2015-2019,
applying to an increasing number of species over that time. The
rules include a small amount of flexibility as well as exceptions
for banned species and for those highly survivable species that
are likely to survive if returned to the sea rather than landed.
118. Defra noted that the discard ban was a positive
step in the right direction, but that the UK Government would
be alert when implementing the ban to ensure that waste at sea
does not lead to waste on land, particularly where edible fish
cannot be made available for human consumption.
119. We concluded in July 2013 that effective
implementation of the discard ban must be resolved as a matter
of urgency. A specific issue was that of identifying highly survivable
species, which could survive if captured and subsequently released
back into the sea. We heard that, as yet, the science and process
for determining such species is lacking.
120. Further to reform of the Common Fisheries
Policy, we urge swift progress on effective implementation of
the discard ban, including the provision allowing an exemption
for highly survivable species. Without such progress, the discard
ban could have the perverse effect of hindering the prevention
of food waste.
121. Legislation introduced in the light of the
BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) crisis prohibits the feeding
of processed animal protein (PAP) to most farm animals.
On 1 June 2013, the ban on feeding non-ruminant (largely pigs
and poultry) PAP to fish was lifted.
The recent Commission fitness check of food legislation described
the continued restriction of feeding such food to pigs and chickens
as "disproportionate" and noted that it would be discussed
122. The foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in 2001
led to the UK prohibiting the feeding to animals of catering waste
that contains or has been in contact with animal by-products.
This was followed by the subsequent enactment of the EU animal
Given that most food waste at retail and consumer stages is mixed,
it is difficult to separate out food that has come into contact
with animal by-products and food, such as bakery products, that
has not. We explore the feeding of the latter type of food to
animals in the next chapter.
123. We heard that both restrictions should be
removed, as long as robust systems were in place for the safe
and centralised collection and processing of such waste in order
to protect animal and human health.
In addition to the food waste benefits deriving from this idea,
there would also be environmental benefits as a substantial amount
of soy is currently imported as animal feed, an argument that
we explore further in the next chapter. It was noted that other
countries, such as Japan and South Korea, manage to operate a
124. Other witnesses were strongly opposed to
the removal of restrictions, emphasising that human and animal
health should not be compromised. Witnesses in favour of maintaining
the ban stated that it was a reflection of the real concerns over
exotic animal diseases, such as African swine fever, foot-and-mouth
disease and BSE, where mass outbreaks had resulted in severe economic
consequences for the European livestock industry.
This was reiterated in evidence from the Dutch government, that
"the risks of an outbreak are considered at this stage to
be so big that we are not into relaxing the measures at the moment".
125. A third group of witnesses, meanwhile, called
for further scientific work to explore the potential for a relaxation
of the restrictions. Specialist Waste Recycling, for example,
said that lifting the measures could potentially have a positive
impact on food waste reduction, as an animal is "a walking
AD plant", and so this issue should be revisited.
The SRA highlighted the issue as highly emotive, stressing that
the farming community would first need bringing round to any changes
in the law.
126. Defra commissioned a study in 2011 to consider
options for the sustainable and safe use of food and catering
waste. The study highlighted a lack of data and recommended pilot
studies to demonstrate suitable production processes and the level
of benefits achievable by using this resource. The study also
suggested that public acceptance of animal feed derived from food
waste is likely to be an issue. Scientific data demonstrating
safety and sustainability would help to inform public opinion.
Feeding the 5,000 welcomed the study and noted it would like to
see further research as a result of the study.
127. There is a lack of clarity on the science
relating to the feeding of catering waste to animals and of non-ruminant
processed animal proteins to non-ruminants, such as pigs. We recommend,
as a matter of urgency, specific review of the applicable legislation
with a view to assessing recent scientific work and identifying
gaps. A lifting of either restriction should only be considered
if proven to be safe, and if the appropriate systems, including
enforcement, are in place.
Food hygiene regulations
128. A number of food safety and hygiene regulations
are set at the EU level, including: cooling and freezing meat;
contamination in food;
and hygiene rules and product liability.
129. Some concerns were expressed that EU food
safety and hygiene regulations can both increase wastage throughout
the supply chain and hamper the possibilities for surplus fresh
food to be redistributed.
The Dutch food banks described food hygiene and safety as one
of their biggest challenges. Retailers made compliance with rules
a requirement of donation.
While these concerns are important, we also heard that the rules
themselves should not be reconsidered.
Guidance would, though, be helpful. To support the redistribution
of food, the FDF recommended the publication by the Commission
of EU Food Donation Guidelines in order "to get clarity around
the issues that might arise".
130. Education forms an important part of developing
the required understanding of rules. We heard that the SFA offers
extensive training to Dutch food banks on compliance with food
safety and hygiene legislation.
In the hospitality and food service industry, such training was
also considered critical, although challenging given the swift
staff turnover (see Chapter 3, paragraph 88).
131. It was suggested that a 'Good Samaritan
Act' might be helpful, along the lines of an Act in the US which
limits food donors' liability for any problems that may subsequently
occur (see Box 7).
Italy is the only European country so far to have passed similar
legislation ('Legge del Buon Samaritano').
US Good Samaritan Food Donation Act (1996)
|The US Good Samaritan Food Donation Act (1996) encourages the donation of food and grocery products to non-profit organisations for distribution to individuals in need.
· protects the donor from liability when donating to a non-profit organisation;
· protects from civil and criminal liability should the product donated in good faith later cause harm to the recipient;
· standardises donor liability exposure; and
· sets a floor of "gross negligence" or intentional misconduct for persons who donate grocery products. According to the new law, gross negligence is defined as "voluntary and conscious conduct by a person with knowledge (at the time of conduct) that the conduct is likely to be harmful to the health or well-being of another person".
132. We were warned, though, that highlighting
the issue may have perverse consequences should such a law not
be adopted. That is, if there was a structured debate and discussion
about the introduction of such legislation, which then drew the
conclusion that it was "a solution looking for a problem"
and it did not get introduced, this could leave potential donors
taking a more risk-averse approach than is currently the case.
133. We conclude that there is both confusion
and a lack of expertise relating to the impact of EU food safety
and hygiene rules on food waste prevention. The issues are not
insuperable, but would benefit from guidance from the European
Commission on the types of food that can be donated and on compliance
with regulations. We are unconvinced of the need for a Good Samaritan
Act due to the potential for perverse consequences. Such an Act
should only be proposed if there is a clear problem to be addressed.
Food Information for Consumers
134. The recently adopted Food Information for
Consumers (FIC) Regulation
sets out new provisions on 'best before' and 'use by' dates (see
Chapter 3, Box 4), generally leaving it to businesses to decide
which date should be used for a particular food. There are exceptions,
such as eggs, which are required to be labelled with a 'best before'
date under separate egg marketing regulations.
The FIC Regulation also includes requirements relating to the
provision of information on storage conditions.
135. We explored consumer confusion relating
to date labelling in Chapter 3 (see paragraphs 70-72). A
specific linguistic issue arising from interpretation of the FIC
Regulation related to uncertainty as to whether the term 'use
by' applies to the end or the beginning of the stated day. In
other official languages of the EU, the meaning is much clearer
than in English. This, it was argued, was a particular area of
concern for sandwich manufacturers and could lead to the unnecessary
wastage of 6% of stock. It would therefore be helpful to be able
to provide language such as "use by end of".
136. We recommend that the UK Government work
with the European Commission to establish whether the term "use
by end of" would be consistent with the Food Information
for Consumers (FIC) Regulation in order to ensure clarity of labelling
for retailers and consumers. We also recommend that the European
Commission review the implementation of the FIC Regulation, including
public recognition of the respective dates and awareness of storage
Packaging and Waste Packaging
137. The EU's Packaging and Waste Packaging (PWP)
to harmonise national measures concerning the management of such
waste to provide a high level of environmental protection and
ensure the functioning of the single market. It sets various targets
on recycling, reuse and recovery, but does not include packaging
138. As explained in the previous chapter, packaging
can have a positive role in preventing food waste (see Chapter
3, paragraphs 74-75). Others sounded a more cautionary note,
emphasising the continued need to reduce packaging waste and to
promote sustainable packaging.
139. The Commission is in the process of reviewing
various pieces of EU waste legislation, including the PWP Directive.
One suggestion made by the Commission in its consultation document
was to include a packaging waste prevention target, an idea opposed
by the UK Government, who believe it would be better to focus
on the product and innovation in product design to minimise the
need for packaging.
140. The UK Government told us that they have
undertaken substantial analysis to assess the point at which packaging
reduction might become deleterious to food waste prevention. It
was on the basis of that analysis that Courtauld Commitment 3
contains only a 3% packaging reduction target for food (see Appendix
5). In the Netherlands,
we heard that further progress is still required before reaching
that same point.
- Food packaging often performs an important
waste prevention function. We urge the European Commission to
ensure that, in its review of the Packaging and Waste Packaging
Directive, provisions are not introduced that may have the unintended
consequences of discouraging innovative packaging that might help
to prevent food waste.
184 Q 115 Back
Q 36 Back
COM(2013) 685 Back
Regulation No 178/2002: The aim of the General Food Law Regulation
is to provide a framework to ensure a coherent approach in the
development of food legislation. It lays down definitions, principles
and obligations covering all stages of food/feed production and
SWD(2013) 516 Back
Q 12 Back
Q 22 Back
European Union Committee, Innovation in EU Agriculture (19th
Report, Session 2010-12, HL Paper 171). Back
European Innovation Partnership 'Agricultural Productivity
and Sustainability', European Commission. This EIP, and four
others, aim to bring together all relevant interested parties
at EU, national and regional levels in order to boost research
efforts, coordinate investments and facilitate access to new innovations.
Communication from the Commission on the European Innovation
Partnership 'Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability',
letter from George Eustice MP to Lord Boswell of Aynho, 29 January
Q 9 Back
Regulation No 1308/2013 Back
Groups of producers that work together voluntarily to organise
agricultural production in a way that can meet market demand more
effectively than producers are able to achieve on their own. Back
COM(2014) 112 Back
Q 22, Q 302 Back
Regulation No 543/2011 Back
Apples, citrus fruit, kiwifruit, lettuces and endives, peaches
and nectarines, pears, strawberries, sweet peppers, table grapes
and tomatoes. Back
Q 32, Q 254 Back
Q 67 Back
Regulation No 1380/2013 Back
Reform of the Common Fisheries Policy,
letter from Lord Boswell of Aynho to Richard Benyon MP, 25 July
Regulation No 999/2001 Back
Regulation No 56/2013 Back
Defra, Defra supplementary Back
Regulations No 1069/2009 and No 142/2011 (as amended) Back
Q 46, Q 71, Feeding the 5,000 Back
Q 46, Q 71, Q 268 Back
Q 23, Q 121, Defra Back
Q 138 Back
Q 268 Back
Q 13, Science and Research Projects - Recycling of catering
and food waste, Defra Back
Q 46 Back
Regulation No 853/2004 Back
Regulations No 315/93 and No 1881/2006 Back
Regulation No 852/2004 Back
Q 36, Q 254, ARAMARK Back
Q 171, Q 185 Back
Q 13, Copa-Cogeca Back
Q 36, FDF Back
Q 165, Q 186 Back
Q 261 Back
Q 37, Feeding the 5,000 Back
Legge 155/2003 Back
Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act (1996), http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/42/1791 Back
Q 69 Back
Regulation No 1169/2011 Back
BRC supplementary Back
Bob Salmon Back
Directive 94/62 (as amended) Back
Q 68, Q 165 Back
EU Commission review of waste policy and legislation: UK government
response, Defra, 3 December 2013 Back
Q 306 Back
Q 167 Back