Sandwich initiative


Food waste was high on the agenda in 2016 and this year has kicked off with another UK breakthrough following an agreement between government agencies and the British Sandwich & Food to Go Association (BSA), which will see thousands of tonnes of food destined to go to waste become available to charities instead.

The agreement would see a change in the law, which currently requires sandwiches and other food carrying a ‘use-by’ date to be destroyed at midnight on the stated date, and instead allow retailers to re-label short shelf life, chilled foods in order to feed the homeless, vulnerable and needy in society.

Research reveals this change in the law could prevent 2,000 tonnes of products going to waste each year. Based on this, the BSA estimates up to three times that figure could be diverted to charities in future.

BSA director, Jim Winship, comments, “We created the change by questioning the interpretation of legislation with the Food Standards Agency and the Department of Food & Rural Affairs. As a result, new guidance has been produced under the BSA’s primary authority agreement with Slough Borough Council which sets new rules nationally for making donations.

“We’ve analysed wastage across just five major retailers produced a potential reduction of 1,924 tonnes. However, retailers and the charities they support will now need to establish the practical means to deliver surplus foods to those who need them.”

The agreement comes following arguments by the BSA that provided retailers are satisfied about the safety of products, they should be allowed to re-label them for donation to charity. It says supermarket sandwiches, for example, undergo rigorous shelf life testing and are generally fine for consumption beyond the use-by date.

Wherever food surplus cannot be prevented, redistribution is a welcome alternative. It’s great to see initiatives like this for sandwiches and food-to-go products, and hopefully similar approaches across the wider food industry will follow.

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