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Best Before Dates & Our Health – Time for Change

Posted Apr 17 2011 2:56pm

Approximately five million tonnes of edible food worth £6bn is estimated to be thrown away in the UK each year!

The government is hoping to put an end to this by simplifying the dating labels on food. The current system of ‘sell by’ ‘best before’ & ‘display until’ labels as well as the ‘use by’ ones is thought to cost the average family almost £700 a year – a figure ridiculous at any time but even more so in these times of financial hardship. In addition, much of the disposed of food ends up in landfill.

According to Wrap - Waste & Resources Action Programme -1.3million unopened yoghurt pots, 440,000 ready meals, 5,500 whole chickens, 4.4million apples, 5.1million potatoes & 1.6million bananas are dumped every single day!

The government plans to do away with all but the ‘use by’ labels which will be maintained to provide guidance on when food is no longer safe to eat thus safeguarding health.

New labels drawing attention to the danger to health of keeping certain foods for excessive periods of time have also been muted. Fish, seafood, eggs & meat carry a risk of food poisoning so may carry extra warnings.

Food wrapping that changes colour if the contents are going off has been developed by scientists at Strathclyde University & could be on the shelves within two years.

Fruit & vegetables for example are often marked with best before stickers yet are perfectly fine to eat. A survey carried out by Morrisons found that 55 per cent of people throw away food that is past its ‘best-before’ date even though it is safe to eat.

A Defra spokesman said: ‘By law, pre-packed food must show a “Best before” date, even though many foods are still safe to eat after that date.

‘This is very different from the “Use by” date that shows when food is no longer safe and should be thrown away.’

‘Being clear on the difference between the two could help us all to reduce food waste.’

Part of the problem is thought to be due to the widespread ploy of supermarket deals such as “buy-one-get-one-free’’ which often apply to products with a short shelf life.

A change in the current system can’t come soon enough. Its not there for the benefit of our health & it’s certainly not good for the health of our present or future society.

Ways to use up left over & excess food can be found at:

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