‘Best before’ dates under threat

‘Best before’ date labels could be scrapped in an attempt to cut food waste.

The government wants shops to put more focus on ‘use by’ dates on items, such as prawns and yoghurt, which have a definite shelf-life.

It also plans to target ‘sell by’ and ‘display until’ labels, which it is thought add to consumers’ confusion, as these labels are used for stock control.

The Waste and Resources Action Programme said households bin up to a quarter of their weekly food and drink purchases.

A spokesperson for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) 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 our food waste.”

The changes will be brought in over the next month and will not involve new legislation.

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