The guide, put together by the European Federation of Food Banks (FEBA), FoodDrinkEurope and EuroCommerce, is designed to help manufacturers and retailers understand the types of food that can be donated, and who they can donate to.
There is also advice on whether food that has passed its best-before date can be donated, and the information on donations that manufacturers and retailers need to document.
With around 100Mt of food wasted annually in the EU, preventing waste in the food chain is a key priority for food and drink manufacturers, retailers and wholesalers, said the guide’s authors.
Patrick Alix, secretary general of FEBA, said it was imperative to recover more nutritious food to support more vulnerable people.
“I hope an increasing number of food businesses will adopt those guidelines and engage with our food banks to take proactive steps to support those experiencing poverty,” he suggested.
Mella Frewen, director-general of FoodDrinkEurope, said it was first and foremost imperative to tackle the “root causes” of food waste, all along the food chain.
However, she added: “When food surpluses do occur, we all agree they should be redistributed as much as possible to food banks.
“With these very practical guidelines, we are simply turning our words into action and encouraging more food companies to best use their surpluses.”
Christian Verschueren, director-general of EuroCommerce, said that the organisations involved were all committed to making sure that wholesome and nutritious food was not wasted.
“Not only do our members donate to food banks and other social organisations – many of them help food banks and charity organisations with logistics,” he said.
“These very useful guidelines show how best to donate food, and many examples of good practice. We hope that these will inspire others to follow the path many retailers and wholesalers have already adopted,” he added.
According to the organisations, the joint guidelines contribute to the ongoing EU and global policy discussions on food waste prevention and stimulating the circular economy.
They are also part of the ongoing efforts to supporting the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 – which aimed to halve food waste by 2030.