Expiry date set for ‘best before’ labels


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Indy Lifestyle Online

“Best before” labels on food such as hard cheese, jam, pickles, rice, pasta and coffee could be scrapped under plans drawn up by the European Commission.

The proposal, which is expected to be discussed next month, is designed to cut the amount of food wasted in Europe with an estimated 100 million tons being thrown out every year.

The rule change would mean manufacturers would no longer be required to put a best before date on certain foodstuffs, The Daily Telegraph reported. Currently almost all foodstuffs must have a date.

Sharon Dijksma, the Dutch agriculture minister, told a meeting of government ministers and officials: “We would like to start with products you have in your home for a long time, like pasta, rice or coffee.

“The labels have nothing to do with safety but with quality. We think citizens can make sure themselves if, for instance, rice is still usable.”

She said ordinary people were able to tell when food had gone off. “Approximately 15 per cent of food waste is caused by expiry dates on packaging,” she added.

Vinegar is a preservative but only became exempt from best before rules earlier this year.

It is thought that some people confuse advisory “best before” dates with “use by” ones, which are there for safety reasons.

So far the UK Government has not backed the change.

A spokesman for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: “We are fully engaged with discussions on ‘best before’ dates and are open to the possibility of exempting some foods from the mandatory requirement of giving a best before date, such as foods with a high acid content.

“However, we believe the connection between these labels and food waste requires further investigation to ensure the removal of date marks doesn’t have the opposite effect to that intended.”