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UK to scrap food packaging sell-by dates
Food sold in the UK will now no longer display sell-by dates on its packaging, due to the mounting problem of food waste levels and in a bid to help consumers save their pennies.
Each year, in the UK, an estimated £12 billion worth of food is disposed of and, in many cases, according to ministers, the information displayed on its packaging is a prime contributing factor to the trend. Defra - the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs - is now recommending that food packaging firms erase the sell-by and the display-by data from their products, as these indicate how long food can be kept on supermarket shelves. Use-by and best-before dates will remain in place, however, as these relate directly to food life.
In its guidance, Defra specifies that use-by labels should indicate the time from which food could be considered unsafe and best-before labels should highlight how food remains edible, from a safety standpoint, but is past its best quality.
UK Food Packaging Dates
Defra's published recommendations on UK food packaging dates follow in-depth discussions held between it and various consumer organisations, food manufacturers, supermarkets and WRAP - the Waste and Resources Action Programme.
"We want to end the food labelling confusion and make it clear once and for all when food is good and safe to eat", Caroline Spelman - Environment Secretary - said in explanation. "This simpler and safer date labelling guide will help households cut down on the £12 billion worth of good food that ends up in the bin."
"There is a lot of confusion amongst customers about date marks", Food Standard Agency (FSA) representative Liz Redmond added. "This new guidance will give greater clarity to the food industry on which date mark should be used on their products while maintaining consumer protection."
Food Packaging Sell-By Dates
According to the British Retail Consortium, however, giving consumers more in-depth knowledge of exactly what the use-by and best-before tags mean would be a more effective approach than simply scrapping food packaging sell-by dates.
"Helping consumers understand that food past its best-before date can still be eaten or cooked could contribute to reducing food waste and saving people money", Director Andrew Opie stated, adding: "The Government should be spreading that message, not focusing on retail practices."
Quelle: Packaging International