Published on September 15th, 2011 | by Beth Buczynski0
UK Ditches “Sell-By” Dates To Reduce Food Waste
These days, everyone is hyper-concerned about food safety. Food expiration dates are meant as a guideline for determining the quality of the product within. But many will toss food into the garbage, rather than risk eating something that’s past its prime. But are these helpful labels doing more harm than good?
If you shop at the grocery store, you’re probably familiar with ‘best before’ and ‘use by’ date marks. These labels give shoppers an idea of when the product was made, and how long it’s been sitting on the shelf.
However, use of an often misleading “sell-by” and “display-until” often means that food is thrown away long before it’s in danger of going bad.
DEFRA, Britain’s Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs, recently release new guidelines with regard to these food date labels, stating that the use of ‘sell by’ or ‘display until’ labels is confusing to the consumer.
“We want to end the food labelling confusion and make it clear once and for all when food is good and safe to eat. 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,” said UK Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman (Environmental Leader).
Of course, consumers should realize that these labels are simply intended to help stores rotate their stock in a timely fashion. More education can help with this. But retailers should also realize that humans have been trained to recognize food labels as health protections, and no one likes to bite into to a big chunk of spoiled food. And they’d rather throw it away than make a family member sick.
But the dumpster diving movement proves that a large percentage of the food that ends up in grocery store trash cans is completely edible. Remember, food wasn’t always pumped full of preservatives and store in a refrigerator. And the human race seems to have done just fine.
Do you adhere to expiration dates printed on food? Or do you follow your nose? Tell us in a comment!
Image Credit: Flickr – The She-Creature