> Supermarkets Encouraging Food Waste with Misleading ‘Use By’ Dates, Wrap & FSA Report - The Food Safety Company Supermarkets Encouraging Food Waste with Misleading ‘Use By’ Dates, Wrap & FSA Report - The Food Safety Company
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    Monday, 27 February 2017

    Supermarkets Encouraging Food Waste with Misleading ‘Use By’ Dates, Wrap & FSA Report

    According to a somewhat worrying warning recently issued by both the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and the Waste & Resources Action Programme (Wrap), the nation’s supermarkets are making a big contribution to the growing issue of food waste by using potentially misleading ‘use by’ dates on food items.

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    Particularly amongst makers of yoghurts, cheese and bread, Wrap reports that many manufacturers are replacing ‘best before’ labels with ‘use by’ dates in a breach of official labelling guidelines. Wrap and the FSA state that only products which pose a food safety risk if left for too long should carry a ‘use by’ date, and that by inappropriately assigning a ‘use by’ date to many products, supermarkets and manufacturers alike are encouraging households to dispose of large quantities of perfectly good food.

    To put the issue into context, in 2011 only 57% of yoghurts carried a ‘use by’ date; by 2015, this had increased by 34% up to a total of 91%. A similar trend was observed with cheese, with the application of ‘use by’ dates increasing from 44% in 2011 to 65% by 2015. Naan bread is the worst offender among breads, increasing from 36% in 2011 to 75% in 2015.

    In an effort to stamp down on such misleading behaviour, Wrap will be conducting a formal review in order to ascertain those products which are needlessly carrying a ‘use by’ date, requesting that manufacturers change any date marks found to be inappropriate.

    Dr Andrew Parry, Special Advisor on food & drink at Wrap, stressed the importance of accurate date marking as he spoke of early progress:

    “Getting this right could save consumers a lot of money which is why we are telling the industry that if there isn't a food safety risk they should not print use by dates on packs. We have already been talking to the UK dairy industry and the juice industry, and good progress has already been made.”

    However, ‘use by’ dates aren’t the only issue to have caught the attention of Wrap. The blue snowflake logo, designed to indicate food products which are suitable for freezing, has seen a 6% reduction in use between 2011 and 2015, falling from 21% down to 15%. Wrap have warned that this too is escalating the issue of food waste by allowing food to prematurely go stale or mouldy. The issue is particularly prevalent among bread manufacturers, which is in fact one of the most wasted food products in the UK with households throwing away approximately 460,000 tonnes of the stuff each year.

    Heather Hancock, Chairman of the FSA, echoed Dr Parry in stressing the importance of such initiatives:

    “The FSA is working closely with Wrap on updating the guidance on the application of on pack dates and related storage advice. I believe it is important that information available on pack not only helps to ensure people have safe food, but that it makes it as easy as possible for them to manage and store their food to ensure less is wasted.”


    Sam Bonson

    Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor in an attempt to expand his horizons.
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    Item Reviewed: Supermarkets Encouraging Food Waste with Misleading ‘Use By’ Dates, Wrap & FSA Report Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Food Safety Co
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