Food Waste Combat (FWC) is a project within Junior Chamber International (JCI) and TEDxEroilor that focused on reducing food waste and increase awareness around citizens about this issue.
FWC’s intentions and people who care about reducing food waste in Romania have some obstacles to face, as there is a backward from the Romanian government to combat food waste in Romania. There is a draft of law no. 217 from 2016 on food waste reduction which has not been officially implemented until now because the Romanian government has suspended this law twice.
The law no. 217/2016 on food waste reduction should have officially been applied on May 27, 2017, a year after it was issued. However, its provisions and implementation guidelines were not approved, which made the Romanian Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry to issue a Government Emergency Ordinance 45/2017 on June 30, 2017, as stated by Romania-Insider. Based on that, food waste reduction law was suspended until December 31, 2017. However, it got prolonged again with 6 more months, until June 30, 2018.
Based on a press release that the Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry published on their website, they had to postpone the implementation of the food waste reduction law because the current form of law cannot be applied, as it does more harm than good. Also, they conclude that the law is not clear, precise and predictable, alongside explanations about their point of view on the defective law.
As the law has been suspended twice, Camelia Gui, the Project Manager of Food Waste Combat, talked about what goes wrong with the implementation of the law.
“This law has been issued twice but never got into effect because they kept having blockage in terms of what are the implementation details. It was only the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development that got involved, but in fact there are more complex issues. You need someone from the (Ministry of) Environment, someone from the Ministry of Economy to come all together and study the impact and multiple implications of this law. However, they never did that and because of it, there are a lot of provisions in that law that don’t make sense in Romania or would be very hard to implement,” Camelia Gui explained.
In addition, Camelia Gui gave some explanations about the problem regarding the expiry date label on food item. Everywhere around the world, the confusing expiration date label on food item leads to food waste.
“In Romania and other European countries, you have this problem with how you express the expiry date. People don’t really use it properly and actually consumers don’t know how to read the expiry date. There are very many ways to express availability and freshness and even safety of an item or food item, but people don’t really know what it is and interpret that and because of it, a lot of food waste happens.” Camelia Gui said.
There are two ways to read common expiry date label on food item. First is ‘best before’, which refers to the quality or freshness of the food, not the safety. Therefore, if a food has passed the expiration date, the food is technically still safe to consume. Second is ‘expiry at’ which refers to the safety of the food. Thus, if a food item has passed the expiration date, it is not safe anymore to consume.
The draft normative act of the current form of the law no. 217/2016 initially published to clarify public debate about what food means “near the expiration date”, according to avocatnet.ro. The problem related to the confusing expiration date label on food items is still consider trivial, because many people are not aware that they have been interpreting expiration date wrongly.
“The consumers don’t know exactly what the differences are and if they see something like ‘best before’ on something like juice, they’ll be like: I’m throwing this away because it’s no longer safe to drink. First of all, people are not properly informed about how to interpret the date of expiration and second of all, our legislation is not clear enough. You could find cheese that has both of the ‘best before’ and also ‘expiry at’, which is not ok at all, because cheese itself is a food item that’s already passed and should have a fixed date of eating. The fact that a food item like cheese has two types of expressing the availability shows how wrong the whole thing is in the Romanian system and it’s not even safe or clear.” Camelia Gui explained.
This article has appeared before on StudentPress.