The way our food is labelled is set to change to give us all simpler, more consistent storage and date label advice. The move is to help tackle the 2 million tonnes of food wasted each year in our homes the UK purely from it not being used in time. A third of this food waste is triggered because of how we as shoppers interpret and understand date labels.
New guidance published on 29 November 2017 by sustainability experts WRAP and produced in association with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Defra, sets out best practice for manufacturers, retailers and brands in applying date labels and storage advice on food. This will act as the industry standard and brings together recommendations that ensure food is safe and adheres to legal requirements, with best practice information to ensure its stored and used within time.
One of the changes you’ll start to notice may be new helpful logos on food packaging. These include the freezing Snowflake logo to be reinstated where it might have been removed, and the introduction of a new Little Blue Fridge icon for foods which should be kept chilled, or benefit from being kept in the fridge.
This new guidance will make packaging much clearer for us all, saving us money and reducing the amount we bin.
WRAP is currently working with the UK’s largest food companies and manufacturers to help them implement these changes across own brand and branded items. With the average retailer stocking between 20,000 and 30,000 different products, changes will take time to appear but early indications are that changes will soon begin to appear.Other changes you may notice on food packaging include:
- More pasteurised fruit juices and hard cheeses moving from ‘Use By’ to a ‘Best Before’ date, meaning these foods are still safe to eat after the date marked. (Click here to find out more about ‘Date Labels’.)
- More fresh produce carrying advice to store in the fridge, to keep it fresher for longer.
- The use of ‘freeze on day of purchase’ being replaced by best practice advice to ‘freeze before the date shown’, particularly on fresh meat.
Keep an eye out for these easy-to-follow symbols and simple guidance, and make the most of the food you buy.Background info (in case you’re interested…)
The guide has been developed following WRAP’s 2015 Retailer Survey, which found an overall ‘mixed-bag’ in food labelling and storage advice. WRAP reported that changes to products, packaging and labelling made in response to earlier recommendations avoided nearly 150,000 tonnes of food being wasted in 2015, saving families an estimated £400 million. Today’s publication carries forward this work in standardised industry guidance.
Marcus Gover, CEO at WRAP explains, “A key way to help reduce household food waste is to give people as long as possible to use the food they buy. Labelling information can help with many aspects of this. Telling people clearly how long a product can be consumed once opened, and giving consistent and simple information about storing and freezing, will help people keep their food fresher for longer, and give more options to freeze the food and use it later - rather than binning food that could have been eaten. That’s why I’m delighted that industry has been so involved in developing this guidance, and for the support of the FSA and Defra. Now it’s time to implement these strategies and WRAP will continue to monitor how industry does.”
Heather Hancock, Chairman of the Food Standards Agency, said: “I welcome this clear guidance to help tackle food waste, without compromising the safety of food. It will help businesses supply food that is properly described and stored, and safely provided to consumers. Reducing food waste is really important to consumers. It’s a commitment we at the Food Standards Agency share with WRAP and Defra, and a growing majority of food businesses up and down the country.”