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Industry reaction sought on updated advice on food labelling

2000 best before date

WRAP has launched a consultation over new guidance on the application of date labels and related advice, such as storage and freezing.

The guidance, produced in partnership with the Government and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) aims to assist further reductions in food waste at home and remove barriers to redistribution.

WRAP is also consulting with food businesses, trade bodies, redistribution organisations and others, including through various Courtauld Commitment 2025 Working Groups.

The updated guidance covers:

  • What the different date labels mean and which date should apply in relation to curtailing food waste
  • Maximising ‘closed life’: the time between purchase and the date of expiry
  • Maximising ‘open life’: how long a product can be consumed once it has been opened
  • Correct storage guidance, including fridge temperature and freezing advice
  • What can and cannot be done as the date approaches or has passed (for sale and/or redistribution)

Waste minister Therese Coffey said: “The food and catering industries have made strong progress in reducing household food waste by a million tonnes since 2007, but there is still a way to go.

“We know that confusing labels can contribute to food waste by suggesting that items need to be thrown away sooner than is necessary, which is why this new guidance will make packaging much clearer for people as they do their weekly shop.”

WRAP’s research has identified that, in 2015, 270,000 tonnes of surplus food from manufacturing and retail could have been suitable for redistribution, while only 47,000 tonnes was actually redistributed.

“Feedback from those involved in surplus food redistribution, both providers and recipients, has revealed significant barriers relating to date labels on surplus food packaging, and confusion around what can or cannot be done as dates approach or are passed. This guide aims to remove some of those barriers,” WRAP says.

The charity is also considering a review of the recommendation on fresh produce labelling.

Responses to the updated guidance is sought until 3 August.

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