Brazil’s food waste law will put consumers at risk, warn experts

17 Aug 2020

Recent Brazilian regulation aims to fight food waste by encouraging food donations – but it puts public health at risk, warn consumer groups and legal experts.

Brazil’s federal government has sanctioned Law No. 14,016 / 20, which aims to prevent unnecessary food waste by encouraging stakeholders to donate food.

Brazil’s food waste law will put consumers at risk, warn experts

Any establishment that produces meals, such as manufacturers, supermarkets, cooperatives, restaurants, cafeterias, and hospitals, can donate unsold surplus food to families or individuals in need.

The regulation states that food donations must meet certain criteria, including having a valid expiry date and being suitable for human consumption. They must also be stored according to the manufacturer’s specifications and be undamaged from a food safety perspective even if the packaging is partially damaged or they have a “commercially undesirable” appearance.

Removing responsibility

Some stakeholders have raised concerns over several articles of the regulation they say exonerate donors in the event of food poisoning.

Article four of the bill reads: “Donors and possible intermediaries will be held liable in the criminal sphere only if it is proven, at the time of the first delivery, even if this is not made to the final consumer, the specific intent of causing damage to the health of others.”

According to article three, a recipient may only seek compensation for damages caused by donated food if the donor or intermediary “acted with intent” while article two states that donating food does not constitute a consumer relationship between the donor and recipient.

‘Serious health risks for recipients’

Dafné Didier, director of quality and regulatory affairs at Fortaleza-based Tacta Food School, said article two of the regulation was in direct contravention of Brazil’s Consumer Protection Code (CDC in Portuguese). This Code states that every natural or legal person who acquires or uses a product or service is the final recipient and eligible to claim for compensation in the event of damage caused to health.

The current food waste regulation “negates […] the legal and constitutional right of consumer”, Didier said.

“It is the duty of the ‘donor and intermediary’ to ensure that donated food does not cause damage or harm to the health of people in need. And it is the right of these consumers who will receive the donation to be guaranteed safe food. To deny this, once again, is to tear up our CDC and laugh at our Constitution,” he told The Ingredients Network.

“Every donor and intermediary, with the help of [article three], will always have an excuse that [they] acted in good faith because they were donating food to families in need,” he added.

“The fight against food waste should not be solved by putting everyone who is in a delicate and fragile situation – hunger – at risk. Those who need food have the right to receive due protection from the State. The State cannot deny its responsibility. To do so is to go against what is legal, ethical and human.”

Welcomed by food industry

João Dornellas, executive president of the Brazilian Food Industry Association (ABIA), welcomed the law and said it removed the “excessive risk” previously faced by food donors.
“This law helps to break these barriers,” he told Brazilian media. “It makes the donor responsible only in case of fraud.”

The head of sustainability at Carrefour Brazil, Lucio Vicente, also welcomed the legal framework provided by the regulation and said it had a team of nutritionists and technical experts to ensure the quality and safety of donated food.

Fighting food waste, fuelling obesity?

São Paulo-headquartered consumer rights organization IDEC, meanwhile, objected to the type of food that can be donated. It said the law would increase donations of ultra-processed foods that are high in salt, sugar and fat, such as canned foods, ready meals, and instant noodles.

“Scientific evidence is robust when it points to the relationship between ultra-processed foods and growing rates of overweight, obesity and other chronic non-communicable diseases, risk factors that exacerbate the effects of coronavirus for people,” said Patrícia Gentil, nutritionist at IDEC. “There is no concern [for] what the population will eat [or] the guarantee of an adequate and healthy diet.”

Related news

French dairy giant Bel to launch plant-based cheese

French dairy giant Bel to launch plant-based cheese

22 Oct 2020

French dairy group Bel will launch a plant-based Boursin in the US next year as it develops vegan versions of its core brands, which include Babybel and The Laughing Cow.

Read more 
Can indoor vertical farming solve the Gulf’s food security challenge?

Can indoor vertical farming solve the Gulf’s food security challenge?

18 Oct 2020

Recent investments in vertical farms could make Gulf countries less reliant on food imports, say the companies involved.

Read more 
Brazilian draft law limits food colourings to ‘smallest quantities’ possible

Brazilian draft law limits food colourings to ‘smallest quantities’ possible

10 Oct 2020

A Brazilian lawmaker is pushing for manufacturers to use the smallest quantities possible of food colourings for health reasons.

Read more 
Two Mexican states ban junk food sales to children: A taste of things to come?

Two Mexican states ban junk food sales to children: A taste of things to come?

28 Sep 2020

Two Mexican states have moved to ban the sale of junk food to children and a national ban may be on the cards, according to one expert. Could this be a taste of future food policy around the world?

Read more 
China’s self-heating trend heats up ready meal category

China’s self-heating trend heats up ready meal category

21 Sep 2020

Self-heating ready meals are experiencing a boom in China, catering to the country’s ‘lazy economy’, and Mintel estimates its market value will double in coming years.

Read more 
Spike in counterfeit goods could damage ‘Make in India’ initiative, warns report

Spike in counterfeit goods could damage ‘Make in India’ initiative, warns report

14 Sep 2020

Counterfeit products are rising in India and fast-moving consumer goods, including food, is in the top three worst-hit sectors. Greater traceability is needed to safeguard the national ‘Make in India’ initiative, says an industry report.

Read more 
Finding opportunities in Vietnam’s changing retail landscape

Finding opportunities in Vietnam’s changing retail landscape

7 Sep 2020

Minimarkets, specialist stores and e-commerce platforms are leading retail growth in Vietnam, providing new opportunities for brands to boost sales, according to Kantar Worldpanel.

Read more 
Beware of ‘woke washing’: Ethical branding must reflect an ethical business

Beware of ‘woke washing’: Ethical branding must reflect an ethical business

31 Aug 2020

Spanish chocolate manufacturer Lacasa is under pressure to change the name and logo of its Conguitos brand with a consumer-led petition - but experts warn against empty ‘cause marketing’.

Read more 
Federal lawsuit challenges US rules on ‘misleading’ GM labelling

Federal lawsuit challenges US rules on ‘misleading’ GM labelling

24 Aug 2020

The Center for Food Safety has filed a federal lawsuit challenging USDA rules that mean genetic modification (GM) foods are labelled as ‘bioengineered’ – a move it says reduces transparency and causes consumer confusion.

Read more 
UK pledges to protect food standards during trade talks but public concern remains high

UK pledges to protect food standards during trade talks but public concern remains high

6 Aug 2020

British public concerns over lowering food safety standards continue to court US trade remain steadfast as the UK and US governments gear up for the next round of scheduled negotiations later this month.

Read more