August 21, 2020

Marco Marangoni | Mérieux NutriSciences Italy


Latvia joins the list of countries where food close to its expiry date can be donated

Latvia joins the list of countries where food close to its expiry date can be donated

Food is undoubtedly a precious commodity. As obvious as it may seem, today 690 million people worldwide suffer from undernutrition (WHO) and in the EU –where the situation is among the best ones– more than 50 million can afford a quality meal only once every second day. If the crisis generated by Covid has also to be considered, the scenario is not the best one.

However, when it comes to reducing food waste, it is not only for a humanitarian cause: sustainability is becoming increasingly pressing, in terms of waste and repercussions of food production on the environment.

This is why when a country opens its doors to new initiatives of environmental sustainability and, above all, to support the less well off, it is always good news.

In recent years, mostly in the EU, many States have approved laws to allow the donation of food and medicines close to their expiry dates, even with the minimum storage term exceeded –not to be confused with the expiry date:

  • the minimum shelf-life is identified by the wording “Best before end…” and establishes the limit within which the product maintains its specific properties if stored in suitable conditions;
  • the expiry date is to be considered as the deadline for consuming the food, after which health risks may present.

Therefore, it is still possible to consume the food if the minimum shelf-life period has already passed, but the regulations in force do not allow it to be sold.
The only thing to do in this case is to donate it.

The latest country to legislate on the subject is Latvia. It has been developing rapidly in the last decade, but an important part of the population still lives below the poverty line.

The rule lists the types of food that can be donated, and the relevant requirements:

  • the usual traceability of the product must be guaranteed,
  • the food must be stored properly according to the directions on the label,
  • the packaging must be intact and free from damage,
  • it must be clearly communicated that it is a product with an expired minimum shelf-life,
  • the donor must label products intended for donations with a clear and indelible indication (e.g. “Donation”, “Charity”).


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