Regulate to reduce food waste

An astronomical amount of food of all categories is wasted before it even reaches our grocery cart. However, the main cause of this disaster is none other than the current regulations.

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Take the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Regulations, which set out aesthetic standards. It requires, for example, that “the green leaves around the cauliflower should look good”, thus forcing industry and traders to waste perfectly edible vegetables when this criterion is not met.

Yet we can eat fruits and vegetables that stray from aesthetic standards. Beautiful or ugly, if they are healthy for consumption, they offer the same nutrients.

So why put them away before they even hit the shelves? As nutritionists, we consider that the classification of fruits and vegetables according to presentation and size in grocery stores should be prohibited.

In addition, the industry is still allowed to set an expiry date based on how long foods have been fresh, in an attempt to force inventory turnover and increase sales, when these foods can be good a lot Longer.

This is a practice that further aggravates waste: food must be removed from shelves on the date indicated on the label.

The government must absolutely review these rules and impose penalties to limit waste within the links of the food chain, even before the food reaches consumers.

Foods that are still safe to eat should not be discarded or bleached to render them inedible. The actors of the food chain must turn to the redistribution of these products. Why throw away these foods that have taken a lot of time and resources to produce, when other solutions are possible?

In addition to selling surpluses at a discount, merchants could donate them to community organizations that serve vulnerable populations, such as the Old Brewery Mission and Accueil Bonneau, or to processing industries that could use these products quickly, low cost.

Food waste goes far beyond our individual power of action, which is why it is imperative to establish a regulation aimed at the food system as a whole.

Let’s make sure we’re part of the solution: ask the government to pass a law prohibiting the throwing away of food safe to eat, from the earliest stages of production to the shelves of our grocery stores.

The approach we are proposing is realistic: one need only see the effectiveness of such initiatives in other countries to be convinced of this.

Take for example the Garot law, which came into force in 2016 in France: it prohibits the throwing away of food suitable for consumption. Initiatives in Norway, Denmark and South Korea have reduced food waste by around 300 tonnes per day through improved food recovery systems.

In this month of nutrition 2022, it is high time that such initiatives be launched in Quebec. Let’s learn from the successes of others to improve our own situation and protect the environment, and become the example to follow in North America.

Catherine Vachon, RD, Food Service Manager, Old Brewery Mission

Manal Al Brahim, Cynthia Barakat, Gabrielle Lehoux, Laurie Martin, nutrition interns, Old Brewery Mission

Moéra Castonguay-Lafleur, Dt.P., Food Safety Manager, Accueil Bonneau

Nivuseni Thesingarajah, nutrition intern, Accueil Bonneau

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