The consultation asks stakeholders, citizens, businesses, NGOs and public authorities for ideas on immediate action to reduce food waste and more generally on how to ensure our food system is using resources efficiently.
These will provide input for a Communication on Sustainable Food later this year.
The move comes in the wake of the news that the EU wastes 89 million tonnes of food each year.
Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik said: "This is morally and economically unacceptable and is all the more horrific when you consider the true scale of the resources required to produce those 89 million tons! We are also wasting all those resources. There's something wrong with the system."
The Commission said that food is essential to life and it forms an important part of the general cultural identity, and plays an important role in the economy, but a growing number of analyses question the long-term sustainability of current trends in the production and consumption of food.
The food system has a significant impact on the environment through greenhouse gas emissions, the use of land and water resources, pollution, depletion of phosphorus, and the impact of chemical products such as herbicides and pesticides.
Respondents to the consultation are being asked what they think the priorities for action should be, how to measure the impacts of food production, the best ways of promoting more sustainable production and supply chains and more sustainable patterns of food consumption, how to prevent and reduce food waste, and what policies would be best suited to address these challenges.
The consultation is open until 1 October and the Commission is planning to present ideas later this year with a strong focus on food waste in a Communication on Sustainable Food. The Communication will look at food waste and reducing resource inefficiencies across the food chain.
On 20 September 2011 the European Commission adopted the Roadmap to a Resource-Efficient Europe calling for incentives for healthier and more sustainable production and consumption of food and to halve the disposal of edible food waste in the EU by 2020.
The Roadmap states the Commission will assess how best to limit waste throughout the food supply chain, and consider ways to lower the environmental impact of food production and consumption patterns, in a Communication on Sustainable Food, to be presented in 2013.