Author Lauren Howells
How our food is labelled is set to change in order to help save shoppers an estimated £1 billion a year in wasted food, equating to 350,000 tonnes of household food waste a year, by 2025.
New guidance developed to help tackle the 2 million tonnes of food waste each year in UK homes
New guidance to be used by food manufacturers, retailers and brands, developed by sustainability experts WRAP in association with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Defra, aims to help tackle the 2 million tonnes of food wasted each year in UK homes, purely because it has not been used in time. WRAP says that a third of this waste is due to how shoppers interpret existing date labels.
Environment Minister, Thérèse Coffey said:
“We know that confusing labels can contribute to food waste by suggesting that edible items need to be thrown away sooner than is necessary. This new guidance will make packaging much clearer for consumers, saving them money and reducing waste.”
Some food packaging to include a new ‘Little Blue Fridge’ icon
WRAP is calling for food packaging to include a new Little Blue Fridge icon, which will inform consumers that a food product should be kept chilled or would “benefit from being kept in the fridge”. It also wants the freezing Snowflake logo to be reinstated on products where it was previously removed.
Advice to ‘freeze on day of purchase’ is already being replaced by ‘freeze before the date shown’, on some products.
‘Use by’ dates only to be used when there is a food safety reason
As part of the new ‘best practice’ guidance, WRAP is also calling for ‘Use by’ dates only to be used when there is a food safety reason and ‘Best Before’ dates to be used in all other circumstances.
Nearly all pasteurised fruit juices and hard cheeses are now carrying a ‘Best Before’ date, rather than a ‘Use By’.
WRAP also asks for products to only include one date label and not a ‘Display Until’, which can confuse consumers.
CEO of WRAP, Marcus Gover, explained:
“A key way to help reduce household food waste is to give people as long as possible to use the food they buy. Labelling information can help with many aspects of this.
“Telling people clearly how long a product can be consumed once opened, and giving consistent and simple information about storing and freezing, will help people keep their food fresher for longer, and give more options to freeze the food and use it later- rather than binning food that could have been eaten.”
New guidance could help to increase amount of food surpluses redistributed
The new guidance could also help to increase the number of food surpluses currently redistributed to charities by four-fold, as foods with a ‘Best Before’ date can be redistributed after the date has passed, while ‘Use By’ items cannot.
Last month, WRAP launched its ‘Save Our Spuds’ campaign, where it was revealed that, as a nation, we bin just under half of all the potatoes we buy.