'Best before' labels to be scrapped

18th April 2011 - Fine Cut

'Best before' labelling could be scrapped in a bid to save £680 worth of wasted food, every month, reports The Telegraph.

The Waste and Resources Action Programme have found that many UK households end up throwing away up to a quarter of their monthly grocery purchases, equating to 8.3 million tonnes every year, because they adhere too rigidly to current 'best before' recommendations.

Consumer groups also argue that printed labels which specify 'sell by' and 'display by' dates confuse the public. Under EU law, the dates must be shown on all produce across Europe to ensure the public know what they are eating, no matter where they are.

To address the issue, the government wants retailers and manufacturers, who have been consulted, to concentrate in 'use by' dates on food items like fish, meat and dairy produce, which deteriorate faster than many other foods.

New guidance aims to make it clear that the 'best before' date is just an indication of food quality, not shelf life. 

Caroline Spelman, environment secretary, told BBC News "I am dismayed so much food goes to waste and if the date labels are part of the problem, it's one thing we should be able to improve.''

However, some industry experts believe that two-for-one offers, which encourage people to buy more food and lack of education are to blame; "people don't know how to re-use leftovers or store food correctly" said Richard Dodd of the British Retail Consortium.

"You cannot just do away with best before and use by dates," he continues in The Telegraph, "However, there is scope for education so people better understand what these labels mean."

The changes are likely to come into force over the next month. 

Categories: Articles
back to Insights