04.01.2019 |

Czech supermarkets must donate unsold foods, court confirms

Czech supermarkets must donate unsold food (Photo: CC0)

Supermarkets in the Czech Republic must donate unsold products to food banks. On Wednesday, the Constitutional Court dismissed an appeal against a new amendment to the national Food Act, aimed at reducing food waste. The amendment stipulates that all supermarkets in the Czech Republic with a retail area of more than 400 square metres must provide unsold but still edible food to charities which then distribute them to the needy. The law refers to products that do not meet certain retail standards, for example with respect to packaging or labelling, but are otherwise safe for consumption. A group of 25 members of the country’s upper house had lodged an appeal, arguing that the amendment was unconstitutional because it represented a kind of tax on food and was in breach of ownership rights. The group around Senator Valenta also protested against fines that can be imposed on supermarket chains for non-compliance with the law. The Constitutional Court rejected the appeal. The judges argued that the law was part of international efforts to combat food squandering, reduce waste levels and help the socially disadvantaged.

The Czech Federation of Foodbanks, which represents 15 organizations, welcomed the decision. “I regard it as a victory for reason over bureaucracy,” Veronika Láchová, director of the federation, told the Czech radio station “Radio Praha”. “Our statistics suggest that every quarter we save supermarket chains up to hundreds of thousands of crowns that they would otherwise spend on destroying food. We worked with them previously and they were aware of that even before this law came in. If they destroyed that food instead of donating it, that would be to disparage not just the value of human work but the value of what we do – and the value of those foods,” she added. Former Minister of Agriculture Marian Jurečka, who introduced the amendment in 2016, said on Twitter that the law now helps more than 100,000 people in the Czech Republic, Radio Praha reported. (ab)

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