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France gives doggy bag a chance in an effort to tackle food waste

Plate2 French households waste €400 worth of food every year (Photo: hupdiggs/flickr.com)

France is to adopt new measures with the goal of cutting food waste in half by 2025. In a report presented to the French government on April 14th 2015, Socialist MP Guillaume Garot put forward 36 proposals to prevent the mass disposal of food. His suggestions could soon be transposed into national law. The ideas include promoting ‘doggy bags’, which would allow restaurant-goers to bring their leftover meal home with them. According to the report, wasted food costs the average French household €400 a year, and the country up to €20 billion. The Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy estimates food waste to amount to 7.1 million tonnes. Mr Garot suggests prohibitions for supermarkets and retailers to throw away edible food, making it compulsory for supermarkets to donate unsold food to charitable associations. In addition, special “against waste” sections in supermarkets are to offer products which are nearing their expiration dates at a discounted rate. Another proposal is to replace the term “best before” and inform consumers about the various definitions of “expiry dates" in order to avoid misunderstandings. The report also includes the suggestion that restaurant owners should encourage customers to take leftovers home in so-called ‘doggy bags’ - until recently an unthinkable practice in French restaurants. Mr Garot admits that, “most customers don’t dare ask for the remains of their meal, and restaurateurs can see it as ‘degrading’ their dishes”. However, wastage has reached such levels that French diners need to overcome this “cultural obstacle” to prevent edible food from ending up in the bin, Garot adds. In an effort to make the doggy bags more palatable, hotel and restaurant industry union UMIH have signed a deal with one provider to “generalise the practice of the doggy bag in France”, calling them “le gourmet bag” instead. (ab)

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