How Fresh Is The Food In Your Fridge?
Long gone are the days when food was kept in a larder or pantry, and you used the ‘sniff’ test to tell if it was safe to use. Today, food labelling is a confusing blend of ‘use by’, ‘sell by’ and ‘eat by’ dates.
Millions of tons of food is wasted every year all over the world as a direct result of these date-labelling systems. According to a United Nations report, one third of the food produced globally is wasted. In fact, food waste has now crossed a staggering 1.3 billion tonnes every year. A lot of food is thrown away due to date labelling when there is nothing actually wrong with it.
So, the big question is, are these labels really necessary? Are there reasons to now doubt the viability of the current system? Two of the biggest culprits for creating excessive waste are the ‘display until’ and ‘sell by’ dates. These dates are used by manufacturers and sellers for their own stock rotation, rather than providing guidance to the consumer.
Clearer date labels will not only help shoppers save money they will also stop perfectly good food being thrown away. The ‘use by’ label is only necessary when the food would be harmful after the marked date, such as for meat, fish, soft cheeses and ready-meals. Most other foods could only carry a ‘best before’ date label, indicating that the food would still be edible after that date, but not at its best. This would include tinned goods, jars, biscuits and snack foods in sealed bags.
Food manufacturers or producers should also provide detailed advice on each of their products, to educate consumers about their food, prevent confusion and help to eliminate unnecessary food waste.