A government report written by Defra has found that by scrapping use by dates in favour of best before labels could save UK households £600 million per year.
Described as both “overly cautious” and “restrictive” in the report, the ending of use by dates could help reduce the 7.3 million tonnes of food thrown away every year in the UK.
Defra and waste charity Wrap have both advised shops and supermarkets to remove used by dates from products unless there is a potential risk of food poisoning.
The two organisations also called on supermarkets to end the use of multiple dates such as “display until” or “sell by” to extend the times that a customer has between opening and eating an item of food.
The British Retail Consortium hit back against the draft guidelines however, stating that the current system of labels employed are not the problem.
It argued that people “should know how to better understand them” and what different dates mean on food packaging.
Environment Minister, Thérèse 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 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.”
Further research by Wrap also found that in 2015, 270,000 tonnes of surplus food could have been redistributed while at the same time, only 47,000 tonnes met that fate.
The charity also estimates that technical changes could also save around 350,000 tonnes of food akin to a value of £1 billion a year.