A major power failure in Belgium, a distinct possibility given the inactivity of nearly all the nuclear plants in the country, would have far-reaching consequences for the distribution centres, supermarkets and food safety. Trade federation Comeos demands attention for the issue.
"20 distribution centres supply 75 % of our food"
Comeos is afraid the so-called 'disconnection plan' will have major consequences. The plan divides Belgium into eight levels of urgency: should there be a problem with the energy supply, level 8 is cut off of energy. If that is not enough, level 7 is cut off as well, and so on. The trade federation now warns that many of the twenty major food distribution centres in Belgium, which provide three quarters of all the food distributed in the country, are in the very sensitive level 7, CEO Dominique Michel tells local newspaper Le Soir.
Of course, distribution centres have emergency generators to handle a possible power outage, "But something like that consumes energy. If the interruption lasts more than three hours and if it repeats itself, we will soon be through our options, which will quickly have an impact on the food supply". Comeos therefore calls for these distribution centers to be given the same status as hospitals, so that they are spared in case of problems.
Supermarkets seek original solutions
Supermarkets great and small also lie in the danger zone: discounter Lidl has 166 stores in the endangered areas, of which 27 have no autonomous power generator. "When a refrigerator is shut down for three hours, it is a famous blow to the cold chain, with all its consequences for food waste", Michel continues. "We are making great efforts to prevent waste, but one shutdown is enough to eliminate those years of effort, because we would have to throw away tons of food."
Delhaize hopes to be able to solve any problems by placing refrigerated trucks at the stores: "There is a plan. We are convinced that we will also be able to guarantee the service to our customers during a shutdown ", says spokesman Roel Dekelver.