European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Vytenis Povilas Andriukaitis was appointed the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety in November 2014. Andriukaitis graduate from medical school in 1975. He also holds a degree in History from Vilnius University acquired in 1984. In 1990 Andriukaitis was elected to the Supreme Council of the Republic of Lithuania which preceded Seimas (Lithuanian Parliament), and was a co-author and a signatory of the Independence Act of Lithuania on 11 March 1990.
Vytenis Andriukaitis was also one of the co-authors of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania adopted in 1992, and one of the founders of the Lithuanian Social Democratic Party. Andriukaitis was a Member of the Lithuanian Parliament for six terms. During that time he served among other things as a Chairman of the Committee on European Affairs and as a Deputy Speaker of the Parliament. From 2012 to 2014 Vytenis Andriukaitis was a Minister for Health in the Lithuanian Government.
1. Which aspect of the food waste problem is the most relevant for you?
Food waste is not only unethical and immoral, it is also an economic and environmental absurdity that our society cannot afford. It is shameful to throw away food in the world where more than eight hundred million people go to bed hungry. In Europe only, we discard 88 million tonnes of food yearly! This carries substantial environmental, economic and humanitarian consequences that are simply unacceptable.
2. What do you think is the best way to make improvements in this area?
There are many ways to make improvements. Each and every one of us can and needs to contribute as buyers, as consumers, as chefs that we are at home when cooking for our families and friends. In terms of policy making on EU level, I would say that improving the coherent implementation and application of relevant EU legislation, programmes and policies is definitely a way forward and we are progressing swiftly. We are also working on facilitation of co-operation between public and private sectors, encouraging sharing of best practices and we will thoroughly evaluate progress made over time.
3. Can you already discover a positive development in this area?
Last year we established the EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste, which brings together a wealth of broad expertise and experience from the scientific community, government, business and civil society. It will lead EU efforts to fight food losses and waste from farm to fork and make solid progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goal of halving food waste between now and 2030.
4. What institutional measures would you like to see in the future?
In addition to the Platform, we continue to work on a range of other measures such as: effective and appropriate tools to ensure more accurate measuring of food waste; guidelines for food donation to those in need, making sure that the donated food meets all food safety standards; enabling the use of leftover foodstuffs for animal feed; and improving the date marking for consumers' to differentiate better between 'Best before' and 'Use by' labelling.
5. Which role does the Initiative SAVE FOOD play in fighting food losses and food waste in your opinion?
Initiative SAVE FOOD does a very important job of increasing awareness on the topic of food losses and food waste. By talking about it, by engaging many different stakeholders – all stakeholders – in the dialogue we will be able to develop tangible solutions to this global problem.