Non-commercial practices may be permitted for food aid. However, food safety must not be compromised and the responsibility for that is of both food donating businesses and food-distributing charities. The Finnish Food Safety Authority and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry have jointly prepared instructions on food to be delivered to food aid.
Food delivered for food aid must be fit for human consumption and must not endanger human health or mislead the consumer.
Foodstuff intended for food aid can be deep-frozen or frozen, but no longer after the expiry date. It is recommended that frozen foods are delivered to consumers frozen. Due to the risk of listeria, for example frozen vacuum- or protective gas-packed smoked or engraved fish may only be used by the food aid server for food prepared by heating if the expiry date has passed.
If the deep-frozen or frozen product do not have package labelling, the date of deep-freezing or freezing must be clearly marked in them. Food charities producing food from fresh food donated to food aid may use products that have exceeded the expiry date as a raw material the next day in case the products are heated to a temperature of at least 70 degrees during cooking.
Charities that regularly distribute perishable food as food aid are subject to food control. In addition to the requirements of food law, the new guide contains interpretations based on the risk-based application of the law, which apply only to charitable activities. The goal is to reduce food waste.
In addition to food businesses that donate food to charities, charities also have a responsibility to ensure the safety of the food they donate. Charities are reminded of the importance of a well-functioning cold chain, fast delivery, and stock turnover, among other things.
Food can be donated to food aid by all food business operators, such as primary producers, processors, warehouses, shops, mass caterers and restaurants. Food aid can be provided to consumers either through charities or directly from food business operators.
The guideline on food to be delivered for food aid is intended for both food aid providers and suppliers, and for municipal food control authorities supervising operations.