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

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Media captionWe asked people what they thought of "best before dates"

"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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