'Help to avoid food waste in the sharing economy': Denmark relaxes rules on individuals selling food

By Niamh Michail

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/Marta Ortiz
© GettyImages/Marta Ortiz
The Danish government has made it easier for non-food businesses to sell food as the popularity of digital food sharing applications grows, saying it will help fight food waste.

Under current rules, Danes can only sell food up to 10 times a year without registering as a food business with the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration.

The new rules will allow them to sell or donate food once a week although this will be limited to “small amounts​” of up to four to five servings at a time.

Minister for the environment and food Jakob Ellemann-Jensen said: "We must reduce food waste in Denmark. I have therefore decided that citizens should have more opportunities to sell or donate [food]. New guidelines should give a helping hand to the citizens who want to avoid food waste and participate in the sharing economy.”

“Applicable food safety rules must, of course, still be observed​,” the Ministry said. This included rules on dangerous ingredients, food traceability or misleading claims.

'Many gains' from the sharing economy

The Danish government launched a sharing economy strategy in October 2017 in an attempt to regulate the fast growing sector, which includes business such as car-sharing platform BlaBlaCar or meal delivery service Deliveroo. 

It said there were many gains to be had from digital sharing platforms in the food sector. 

"It saves resources and it is cheaper to cook food for several at a time. It makes it possible for Danes to reduce food waste, and more can benefit from food that would otherwise have been thrown out."

The government said the rules would bring social benefits to certain sections of the population, such as older people who cannot cook at home but will be able to buy home-cooked meals more easily in their local area.

James Persad, head of marketing at food waste campaign group FareShare UK, told FoodNavigator it was “an intriguing initiative”.

“It will be interesting to see if it encourages Danish households to reduce their food waste. At the very least, we hope it makes people think about others when they are about to waste food they can’t eat but is perfectly edible.

“Whilst the concept of offering food to neighbours in the UK is not new, with platforms like Olio and Streetbank available to offer surplus food – these are market solutions rather than state-led encouragement to redistribute good surplus food, which we welcome.

"The big unknown is how the Danish proposal will be able to ensure and monitor food safety and traceability of the ingredients,” ​he added.

More information on the government strategy and sharing economy guidelines can be found here ​(in Danish).

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