Scrapping ‘best-before’ labels is not going to reduce food waste. There should be a focus on customer education, said the British Retail Consortium (BRC).
Reacting to proposals by Environment and Food Secretary Hilary Benn, today (Tuesday), that could include phasing out ‘best-before’ and ‘sell by’ labels, the BRC said achieving better understanding of food date labels and improving food management at home will make more difference to reducing food waste.
The ‘use-by’ date is a safety requirement designed to warn customers that food is not safe to eat after this date. The ‘best before’ date is generally about quality. When ‘best before’ dates expire, food might start to lose its flavour and texture but will not be unsafe. ‘Sell by’ dates help store staff manage stocks. The key is to help customers understand those meanings.
Stephen Robertson, British Retail Consortium Director General, said: “Scrapping best- before dates won’t reduce food waste. Customer education will. Date labels are there to help customers but they need to understand what they mean. Retailers are working with the Government to improve understanding and to help customers make better choices about buying, storing and using food at home.”
For definitions of use by, best before, sell by or display until dates see the Food Standards Agency website: