Another article from a major UK newspaper discussing the amount of food waste generated in the UK each day.
Whilst I don’t agree with all of Philip’s points, he does make some very valid ones, particularly regarding the use of ‘best before’ and ‘use by’. I believe the major problem is that a large majority of consumers not only misunderstand the meaning of and the differences between the two dates, but they have also come to rely totally on the date shown on the packaging, regardless of whether it’s a best before or a use by.
This appears to lead to a lot of people throwing away food that has nothing wrong with it just because it has gone past it’s Best Before date. They appear to have lost much of the ‘common sense’ previous generations had when it comes to recognising if food is still safe and edible. I think a prime example of this is fruit and vegetables. Walk into any supermarket in the country and you will find bags of potatoes with Best Before dates on and I know people who won’t use them after they’ve past that date and yet in reality the potatoes may sit happily in a dark cool cupboard for much longer and still be perfectly edible. Whilst having dates on food items is very useful for the supermarkets as it helps staff with stock rotation it also creates massive amounts of waste.
I know that the supermarkets say that they are doing everything they can to lessen the amount of food waste, but I believe they should be doing more. They should be making a concerted effort to not only educate their customers on what the difference is between Best Before and Use By dates, but also in how to identify if food is still safe and edible. At the moment all the big supermarket chains whether it be Sainsburys with Jamie Oliver or Waitrose with Heston and Delia appear to have some sort of a ‘celebrity’ chief encouraging their customers to try new and different foods and recipes – what about using some of these people to publicise what constitutes edible food and encouraging people to use the Best Before date for what it was originally intended – just a guide and not the strict date many people seem to interpret it as currently. (Jane Bear)
To read Philips full article just follow the link to the Telegraph