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WRAP charts progress on food dates

Food packaging items fruit and veg trays

Changes to food packaging and labels could save UK homes £1bn annually, according to a report from WRAP.

The charity’s latest retailer survey finds some improvements, including a 40% drop in the number of products with multiple expiry date labels such as ‘sell by’ and ‘use by’.

It also says “good progress” has been made on improving freezing instructions, with a move away from ‘freeze on day of purchase’ guidance to ‘freeze before the date shown’.

But the report still finds conflicting guidance on fridge temperatures for many foods, and says there is an overuse of ‘once opened, use within x days’ messages.

Steve Creed, director at WRAP, said: “Around 150,000 tonnes of household food waste was avoided in 2015 compared with 2007 as a result of technical changes to products, saving UK families around £400m a year.

“Our report shows a mixed bag in terms of overall results. There are areas where good work continues to make a real difference and others where there is room for improvement. These insights provide a crucial snapshot of what industry is doing and where more work is needed.”

WRAP is currently working with UK Governments and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) on updating guidance on the application of expiry dates, storage and freezing guidance. This review will open for public consultation in the spring, with new guidance expected to be published in the autumn.

FSA chair Heather Hancock said: “I believe it is important that on-pack information not only helps to ensure people have safe food, but that it makes it as easy as possible for them to manage and store their food to ensure less is wasted.”

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