The culture of food donations in Croatia

The culture of food donations in Croatia

On November 1st 2015 the Croatian Ministry of Agriculture adopted the Rules on the conditions, criteria and ways of donating food and food for animals. These rules lay down detailed conditions, criteria and ways of donating food and food for animals, the conditions that the mediator must meet in donating food and food for animals, and the content and manner of maintaining the Register of mediators.

These rules rely on the Croatian Food Law and the Law on food hygiene and microbiological criteria for food. In the process of donating food both donors and mediators must adhere to the conditions laid down in the in Regulation (EC) No. 178/2002 and the general requirements relating to hygiene laid down in the Regulation (EC) No. 852/20042 or the Regulation (EC) No. 183/20053.

Even though there is no single regulation in the European Union that regulates this issue, and the implementation of mentioned regulation is left to each national legislation, it is important to stress the Directive 2008/98/CE on waste - it sets the basic concepts and definitions related to waste managament, such as definitions of waste, recycling and recovery in the EU.

Before these mentioned changes, Croatian enterprises had to pay VAT if they decided to donate food – that is no longer the case. Interesting fact is that before these rules were adopted, it was more profitable for the enterprises to dispose food rather than donate it.

Despite the mentioned changes, the problems that occured are numerous. Some of them are the following:

1. There is no form of sanctions for the enterprises that continue with the food waste.
2. Some of the terms set by the Rules are the business secret of the company - yet this information is required in the obligatory documentation.
3. Both mediators and donors need to go through a great amount of administration.
4. Mediators can only be humanitarian organizations registered in the Register of the Ministry of Agriculture.

Since Croatia is still on it's way when it comes to learning from good practices of other countries, great amount of education is needed for all stakeholders:

1. Companies require much more information when it comes to the link between donating food, corporate philantropy, national and EU grants and connecting with the community.
2. It is necessary to create a legal framework that will perform some pressure on the companies that continue with the food waste.
3. Consumers need to be educated about the overall dangers of the food waste as well as labels such as ''use best before''.

Within Hi4CSR project partners will work on analyzing the current situation when it comes to the issue of donating food in the EU and the differences between practices.

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Author: Jasenka Begić (The Croatian Institute for Corporate Social Responsibility)