Each French person wastes on average over €100-worth of food - and 29 kg - per year, according to data published in French newspaper Le Monde.
This week celebrates the French National Day Against Food Waste (Journée nationale de lutte contre le gaspillage alimentaire), which aims to raise awareness of the scale of the problem.
Le Monde’s report showed that if the entire food chain - from production to consumption - is taken into account, each consumer actually wastes as much as €240 and 155 kg-worth of food per year.
In response, the French minister for agriculture has warned the public to make sure they do not needlessly throw food away, and to mind the difference between “use by” (known in French as the DLC (date limite de consommation)) and “best before” (DDM, date de durabilité minimale) dates.
“Use by (DLC)” dates should be strictly adhered to, as they denote perishable items such as meat or dairy products, and can be dangerous if eaten after this date.
“Best before (DDM)” dates show that food may be past its best after the date shown, but is not likely to be dangerous, and could probably still be eaten for a few more days or weeks - for example, pastries, dry cakes, chocolate or jams.
Globally, the report showed that we throw away 41.2 tonnes of food every second, or 1.3 billion tonnes per year, worth €16 billion, of which 88 million tonnes (173 kg per person) was thrown away in the whole of Europe.
France was not among the worst European countries for waste, however, coming in just behind Denmark and Germany, 15 places behind the highest-wasting country, Holland (541 kg per inhabitant), followed by Belgium (345 kg), Cyprus (327 kg), Estonia (265 kg), Poland (247 kg), and the UK (236 kg).
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