Do you know the difference between Use by, Sell By, and Best Before? Lots of us can understandably get these messages in a muddle. Local store NISA and Too Good to Go are looking to change this.
What is Too Good to Go?
Too Good to Go is a company that is at the forefront of food waste reduction in the UK and Europe. Every year an astonishing amount of perfectly edible food is thrown away due to the best before dates being misunderstood.
Food that is still safe to eat is discarded due to it being labelled as “Best Before”. 10% of household waste is down to label confusion. The UK alone throws 180,000 tonnes of edible food each year, which is worth an eye-watering half a billion pounds. The biggest product that hits the bin, rather than the toaster, is bread.
Best Before does not mean that the product is gone bad and cannot be consumed. It means that it has passed the premium point and may have some texture or flavour deterioration but will still be safe to consume. For example, a slice of stale bread is not at its best but popped into the toaster with jam and butter, delicious. So long as the foodstuff has been stored correctly, just passing the best before date does not make it off and inedible.
Too Good to Go is trying to tackle this issue from two angles. Firstly, they are getting food manufactures to make changes to their packaging and display the Look, Smell, Taste Don’t Waste, slogan alongside the best before dates.
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Look, Smell, Taste Don’t Waste!
The message they are promoting is that just because the Best Before date has past don’t just throw it in the bin. Instead, use your senses and look, smell, and taste the product and then decide if it can be eaten. Next time you have a pot of yoghurts that is unopened and the best before date has passed by a day or two, open it up give it stir then look, smell, and taste it. Chances are that there will be nothing wrong with it
Claim a Magic Bag of Food
They have also launched an app, you can download it at The App Store and Play Store, where you can search for local businesses that list the food about to pass the best before date that you can claim. NISA locals, that sell what is known as Magic Bags bag up food that is approaching its best before date and lists it on the app for customers to purchase at a hugely reduced price.
So far over 100 NISA locals have joined the ingenious scheme. NISA estimates that they have saved 46,000 bags of food from going into the bin. This provides good food at low prices for their customers as well as being beneficial to global warming, by lessening the food that goes to landfills. They are aiming for over 1000 stores to sign up for this scheme over the next 12 months.
Champion brands that are on board
When doing your shopping keep a lookout for brands that have adopted these changes to their labelling. Arla, one of the first milk brands to make this positive change, Laughing Cow, Danone, Actimel, Activia, Onken, Dash water, Punchy Drinks, Oggs, and Nestle are all adapting their packaging to reduce food waste.
Some of the products have the best before date printed but accompanying it is the Look, Smell, Taste Don't Waste! slogan and imagery. Urging consumers to evaluate their food before disposing of it. With everyone doing their bit to reduce food waste we will reduce carbon emissions whilst saving money.
Dates on food can mean different things and can be confusing. Here is a rundown of the different dates you may encounter on your food products.
Use by must be fully adhered to, this will be what you see on meat and fish, and you cannot eat products past this date. The only way to extend their life is to freeze before the Use By date has expired, preferably on the day of purchase.
Best Before, as previously mentioned is more of a guide and is saying the product, although not gone bad, may be past its best. You will find this on many products such as yoghurt, dips, and most packaged foods. If you are a couple of days after the best before date and the product has been stored correctly now is the time to employ the Look, Taste, Smell test.
Sell By is something that is put on product for the shop staff to keep a watch on, it can be found on almost any product in the shops and works as a reminder for shop staff to remove from sale. Hopefully, you would not buy something past the Sell By as the shops should have got there first and removed it.
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