'Best before' labels could soon be a thing of the past as the government attempts to cut waste
In an attempt to cut the £680 worth of food thrown away by the average UK home a year, the government is considering scrapping ‘best before’ labels and putting more emphasis on ‘use by’ dates instead.
The initiative follows consultations with manufacturers and retailers and could see best before dates vanish from products such as prawns and yoghurt, which have a definite shelf life.
‘By law pre-packed food must show a best before date – even though many foods are still safe to eat after that date,’ says a spokesperson for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. ‘Being clear about the difference between best before and use by dates could help us all to reduce food waste.’
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.
The changes will be brought in over the next month and will not involve new legislation. The proposals will target ‘sell by’ and ‘display until’ labels, which is thought to add to consumer confusion.
Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman says: ‘I am dismayed so much food goes to waste. If the date labels are part of the problem, it’s one thing we should be able to improve.’
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