Use it or lose it
Last week we found out that the campaigner, Too Good To Go, has over 40 food and drink brands signed up to an initiative to tackle date label confusion.
The ‘Look, Smell, Taste, Don’t Waste’ campaign aims to educate consumers to use their senses instead of purely following best before labels. It also set out to encourage food brands to move from use by to best before labels where appropriate and safe, to reduce unnecessary food waste.
It’s hardly surprising such an initiative has come about. Reducing the amount of perfectly good food that is wasted every day simply because of date label confusion has to be an issue on which we all agree. Also, according to Too Good To Go, the average Brit throws away £303 worth of food a year on average due to it being past its best before date.
Research in the United Kingdom reveals consumers’ attitudes and behaviours toward eating food past the use-by date include their own ingrained behaviour.
It’s skepticism about the date that needs addressing. Is the date an exact cut-off or an industry estimate? We’ve all personal experience of items going bad before a date on packaging. Although I can say I’ve not been ill eating expired food, I know people who believe they have been, and such a reaction has reinforced their perceptions and undermined their trust.
Explaining how use-by dates are determined and providing information about the risks associated with specific products could help raise awareness of which products have a use-by date and why, would be a tremendous aid.
Greater consistency in labeling, placement of the date and using larger print could also help increase use-by date identification.
There’s certainly more work to be done so adapting the triggers in reducing household food waste is a huge move.
It will certainly empower people to use their judgement to decide whether a food or drink is still good to consume. I’m sure I’m little different from many who apply their senses and look, smell and taste products to check whether they are edible.
- Rodney Jack, editor, Food & Drink Technology.
Keep in touch via email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @foodanddrinktec or LinkedIn: Food & Drink Technology magazine.