Food chain safety and fight against food wastage: turning constraints into opportunities - Lille, November 20th 2012 : MINUTES are AVAILABLE!

Food chain safety and fight against food wastage: turning constraints into opportunities - Lille, November 20th 2012 : MINUTES are AVAILABLE!

Work context

For the past 2 years, the GreenCook project partners have been testing innovative tools, methods and strategies to help reduce food waste. Via these pilot approaches, they have also been able to identify the parameters that generate food losses, and which they have no control over, more clearly.

The food safety chain regulations also play a role in this.

So how can we contain the risks and guarantee the hygiene and food safety standards consumers expect while stimulating sustainable dynamics that allow us to keep the waste of food under control?

GreenCook aims to build solid bridges between these two approaches by launching a constructive dialogue about their links and paradoxes during a one-day work day organised in the framework of the project’s Mid-Term activities in Lille on November 20th, 2012.

3 round tables were set up regarding topics that are presented here after.

Conclusions and recommendations were drafted by Paul Mennecier, Head of Unit Food - DG Food & Food Industry, Ministry for Food, Food Industry and the Forest (France).

The results of these discussions will be written down in a memorandum that will be used as a strong basis to develop optimized joint action plans for North West Europe that will benefit regulatory innovation.

Presentations from the speakers are already available.

And pictures are to be discovered HERE

Workshop no. 1: relaxing supplier’s responsibility in order to favour donations

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Food safety policies in Europe get inspired from the EU « General Food Law » 178/2002 that states that any food operator is responsible for his product. That means that they have to use a self-control process.

Traceability is also an important data within the food sector. Following article 18 from « General Food Law » each operator need to demonstrate that they can trace their products all the time. In practice, it implicates that each market actor should identify his supplier (above) and his client (below) and be able to show the internal links of the product batches. This procedure helps the food chain safety control authorities to gather all the pieces of the puzzle and thus allows them to apprehend the global history of a given product.

Each operator takes the individual responsibility of the safety of the food he deals with as well as its traceability. In that context the role of the control authorities are thus to check if all operators involved in the food chain are reliable. If needed they can take measures in order to improve the self-control process or even give sanctions.

This strong policy is also applicable to the food donation schemes, which does not encourage many operators to become potential donators. F.i. supermarkets are confronted daily with unsold, discarded goods (+/- 1% of the turnover) that could be donated, which represents millions of meal equivalents each year!

Since 2003, an Italian law called « Good Samaritan Law » encourages enterprises to give those unsold goods to charities by reducing tax pressure as well as by relaxing legal constraints that are imposed to them in terms of traceability.

Aim : favouring interaction between publics services, local associations on one side and food suppliers, retailers, caterers on the other side.

What can be learnt from the Italian experience? Which practical opportunities could come out of a potential generalization of such a policy at the North-West European level in terms of food wastage reduction? Which major brakes could be taken into account? Which limits not to cross as regards a relaxed policy in view to keep on guaranteeing the safety of the food donated? How to help beneficiaries of the food donations remain confident about the quality and the safety of the food they are given in the framework of such a policy?

Speakers : Serge Decaillon, Chairman of Secours Populaire Pas de Calais (France), Thomas Pocher, Chairman of Greentag and GreenCook partner (France), Philippe Dosogne, Dept of Environnement - City of Herstal (Belgium), Dr. Silvia Gaiani, Researcher and teacher - University of Bologna & Last Minute Market (Italy)

PowerPoint - 7.7 Mb

Workshop no. 2: enhancing the perception and interpretation of regulations governing food safety so as to avoid unnecessary waste in the catering sector

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Mass catering (in schools, company canteens or restaurants) proves to be an important source of food waste (166 g/person/meal in France).

However, part of that waste could be avoided by interpreting the prevailing food safety regulations in a less restrictive fashion and by optimizing professional kitchen practices (e.g.: excess amounts of food being cooked, the use of blast chillers).

Increasingly more feedback from North West Europe proves that innovation, creativity and efficient management do not cost more, do not prevent catering establishments offering healthy and qualitative food but do help limit losses without exposing consumers to additional risks. These approaches have also been trialled in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Germany by the GreenCook partners directly.

How can we help make these committed practices more widespread and restore the important status of the profession? What aspects of the food safety regulations should not be disregarded and how should we interpret them with a view to reducing food waste? How can we boost the level of knowledge of the ways and means to properly preserve food products? How can we overcome the psychological barriers linked to the implementation of alternative strategies?

Speakers : Camille Kupisz, Directeur des Formations Initiales, CR Nord-Pas de Calais and GreenCook partner (France), Bruno Berthier, Chairman of CCC (France), Anne Didier-Petremant, association de Mon assiette à notre planète (France), Christophe Demangel, canteen cook at Collège Jules Grévy - Poligny (France), Eric Van Veluwen, private chef and GreenCook partner (the Netherlands).

PowerPoint - 20.3 Mb

Workshop no. 3: optimizing the labelling of food products to limit waste

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Most consumers almost automatically glance at the expiry dates of the food products stored in their fridge or larder. Chances are that anything past its expiry date is immediately confined to the bin. Yet, there is a fundamental difference between the use-by date (UBD) and the best before date (BBD), also called the date of minimum durability (DMD). The first one relates to fresh products such as charcuterie, meat, dairy produce, eggs, fish, shellfish, etc. which do carry a risk to consumers if they are gone off. The BBD/DMD, on the other hand, is used for products that are not all that perishable such as grocery products, coffee, preserves, drinks, frozen products, hard-baked pastry products and certain dietary food products. Once these are past their BBD/DMD, and provided that they have been stored correctly of course, these products are still safe to use even though their nutritional and organoleptic qualities are no longer guaranteed. They may be less flavoursome, they may be drier, softer or may look differently but their consumption does not pose any health risks. This obligation to mention the date of minimum durability ensues from Directive 2000/13/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 March 2000 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to the labelling, presentation and advertising of foodstuffs, and also features in new EU Regulation 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers, which is due to come into effect on 13 December 2014. However, the confusion that still reigns in many consumers’ minds about these two different types of dating makes that consumers unnecessarily discard considerable amounts of food. The problem may also be compounded by the presence of other superfluous information on the packaging of food products such as their sell-by date or display-until date or even a use-by “after opening” date (which is determined by the producer).

In that context, the optimization and harmonization of food labels by simplifying their legibility and intelligibility for consumers could help reduce the amount of food households are wasting. Yet, how do we tackle this challenge?

Should the ‘best before date’ be adapted and if so how? Should it simply be got rid of altogether? Could this reference date which manufacturers put on the packaging as a quality guarantee to consumers be dispensed with? Could enhanced and better-coordinated consumer information overcome this problem? Could this type of decision in fact not be construed as an unacceptable regression in terms of food safety? Different angles of approach are currently being considered across North West Europe which may very well prove to be a source of inspiration.

Speakers : Sebastian Ludwig, AVL and GreenCook partner (Germany), Ir. Corné Van Dooren, Voedingscentrum (the Netherlands), Célia Potdevin, Consommation Logement Cadre de Vie (France), Angélique Van der Laan, Cryolog (France), Marie-Paule Dousset, journalist and writer (France)

PowerPoint - 27.1 Mb

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