Clearer food labelling plan 'to bring an end to waste'


We asked people what they thought of "best before dates"

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"Best before" date labels could be scrapped in an attempt to cut the £680 worth of food thrown away by the average UK household each year.

New government guidance to shops aims to put more focus on "use by" dates on items such as prawns and yoghurt which have a definite shelf life.

The initiative follows consultation with manufacturers and retailers.

It will also target "sell by" and "display until" labels which it is thought add to consumers' confusion.

These labels are generally used by shops for stock control.

The changes will be brought in over the next month and will not involve new legislation.

According to the advisory body Waste and Resources Action Programme, households can end up binning up to a quarter of their weekly food and drink purchases.

A spokesperson for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: "By law, pre-packed food must show a 'best before' date - even though many foods are still safe to eat after that date.

"This is very different from the 'use by' date that shows when food is no longer safe and should be thrown away. Being clear on the difference between the two could help us all to reduce our food waste."

Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said: "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."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 147.

    Aw does that mean I can't get perfectly good discounted food at 7pm in my local shop anymore? How will a student survive!? I don't like that so much good food gets wasted or that most people don't understand that's what a freezer is for. I see use by dates as a good way to save money. I just bought fresh yoghurt yesterday for 19p! Bargain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 143.

    I don't willingly throw food away. I don't knowingly buy food beyond my needs.

    Date to shelves or manufacture, or process would be helpful though. I hate rummaging in supermarkets because they put old stock to the front. When I do buy food I want fresh.

  • rate this

    Comment number 92.

    Use your eyes and nose,tharts the best way to check if food is still safe to eat not silly labels.I can remember when perishable food was sold without any controls and pies and sausage rolls were often out for days and only thrown away when mouldy.A use by date is the best way to advise people.

  • rate this

    Comment number 91.

    I believe supermarkets use the “best before” label to avoid customer complaints in case they get sick after consuming the “expired” food. In fact these foods are just fine even after the expiry date if theyre kept properly. I do feel sad to know tonnes of “perfectly safe” food are thrown away every day but I doubt that changing the package labelling can do much in reducing wasting food

  • rate this

    Comment number 90.

    It won't risk people's health since the products (meat) that are most associated with food poisoning have 'use by' dates. 'Best before' dates are only a manufacturer's ADVICE; it is ILLEGAL to sell a product after its 'use by' date. The reason prepacked foods have to have 'best before' dates is because the packaging stops customers determining the freshness of a product before they buy it.


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