New rules will apply to restaurants and bars. / sur

Restaurants in Spain will have to offer clients doggy bags for their uneaten food

The Spanish government has approved a new law to prevent food waste, including rules which will also affect supermarkets and farmers, among others

ANTONIO PANIAGUA Madrid

The Spanish government is cracking down on food waste. In addition to making supermarkets sell misshapen fruit and veg cheaply and donate unsold products to food banks and charities, a draft law means that restaurants will have to offer clients the chance to take home any food they have not eaten.

The future law will oblige all agents in the food chain, from farmers to industry and distribution, to draw up a plan to prevent waste and anyone who fails to comply could face fines of between 2,001 and 60,000 euros, or 500,000 euros for repeat offenders.

With regard to restaurants – and with the exception of buffets – staff will have to ask clients if they would like to take their uneaten food away with them, and if so then the establishment must provide suitable containers. This also applies to bars which serve food.

The Minister of Agriculture, Luis Planas, has said that companies will have to certify how much waste they have produced each year and shops will be obliged to reduce the price of products which are nearing their expiry date. “No food product is more expensive than the one that ends up in the rubbish. That is sheer waste,” he said.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation says approximately 30% of the food produced in the world goes to waste, and accounts for around 1.3 billion tonnes a year. Nearly half of the waste is produced following harvesting, when growers throw away products which appear imperfect, and by shops and stores.

A need to raise awareness

A study by the Ministry of Agriculture has shown that 75% of households in Spain waste food, especially fruit (32%), vegetables (13.6%), bread (4.8%) and milk (4.5%).

The government says this is unacceptable when over 800 million people in the world suffer from hunger and 1.6 billion from malnutrition. Luis Planas said Spain is one of the few countries to legislate on this issue: only France and Italy have done so until now.