Sainsbury's customers can chill out over freezing food

Sainsbury's bags Sainsbury's hopes the move could stop over-cautious consumers binning perfectly good food

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Sainsbury's is removing advice to freeze food "on day of purchase" from its labels and informing customers it can be done up until the use-by date.

The UK's third-largest supermarket chain believes 800,000 tonnes of food a year could be saved from the bin.

The move, in conjunction with the Waste & Resources Action Programme (Wrap), was welcomed by the government as "good news for hard-pressed family budgets".

The average UK family wastes up to £50 worth of perfectly good food a month.

The supermarket will advise freezing food as soon as possible, any time up until the use-by date.

"There is no food safety reason why it cannot be frozen at any point prior to the use-by date," said Beth Hart, head of product technology for fresh and frozen.

Food Waste Figures

  • 7.2 million tonnes of household food waste is thrown away annually in the UK
  • 4.4 million tonnes of food binned annually could have been eaten
  • The environmental impact of avoidable household food waste is around 17 million tonnes of CO2e - equivalent to the emissions of one in five cars on UK roads
  • the average family wastes £680 of food a year
  • the total value of food wasted in the UK each year is £12bn

Source: Waste & Resources Action Programme (Wrap)

"As one customer pointed out to me while discussing the previous labelling, 'How does the product know which day I purchased it on?"'

Research by Wrap has found that 60% of people believe food has to be frozen on the day it is bought - a view reinforced by current labelling.

"Now we can all look in our fridges and know that we can freeze most items which are about to go out of date and enjoy them at a later time," said Andrew Parry, Wrap consumer food waste prevention manager.

Environment Minister Lord Taylor said: "This is good common sense by Sainsbury's and it's good news for hard-pressed family budgets."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 175.

    I was raised by my grandparents, who had been through 2 wars and rationing. "Waste not, want not" was my Gran's mantra, so I was taught to trust my eyes and my nose & not worry about dates when it came to whether or not food was safe to eat. It's a practise I continue to this day. Freezing preserves food indefinitely, it's the quality that deteriorates, so dates are relatively unimportant.

  • rate this

    Comment number 157.

    Supermarkets should change many of their policies - but people themselves should get more educated on the issue (school only is not enough), perhaps weekend-fun-classes with rounds in producers' markets, celebrity-chefs talking more of seasonal-local foods, circle of friends, etc.

  • rate this

    Comment number 151.

    I must admit to being one of these gullible people, in the past, who assumed that the advice of "Freeze on day of purchase" was valid! Because of this wrong advice, I have previously thrown away perfectly good, unused food from my fridge, that was very near the "Best before" date, simply through forgetting to freeze it straight after purchase! Thank you Sainsbury's, for this important new advice.

  • rate this

    Comment number 145.

    I am amazed that 60% of people throw away food because they haven't frozen it the day they bought it what a waste. You could have purchased the item at any time up to it's use by date and as mentioned in the article the product doesn't know which day it was purchased! It's common sense surely.

  • rate this

    Comment number 144.

    I don't think we should throw `any` food away. Farmers having to destroy crops that don't meet the 'standards' of the supermarkets (leeks the wrong length, mushrooms the wrong shape ...) is crazy. Packaging should be minimised, carrier bags should be made of a biodegradable material ... It's a long list. The food industry is a whole must be one of the most wasteful there is.


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