New guidance, just published by sustainability experts WRAP and produced in association with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Defra, has set out best practice in the choice and application of date labels and storage advice.
This will be used by food manufacturers, retailers and brands as the industry standard and brings together recommendations that ensures food is safe and adheres to legal requirements, with best practice information to ensure it is stored and used within time.
A new addition is the call to use helpful logos alongside text more often, which consumers find easier to understand than text alone. The organisation is calling for the freezing Snowflake logo to be reinstated where it might have been removed, and introduces a new Little Blue Fridge icon for foods which should be kept chilled, or benefit from being kept in the fridge.
Environment Minister, Thérèse Coffey said, “We know that confusing labels can contribute to food waste by suggesting that edible items need to be thrown away sooner than is necessary.
“This new guidance will make packaging much clearer for consumers, saving them money and reducing waste.
“I encourage all food businesses, large and small, to use this guidance to help them put the right date mark on food and help to guide people on the refrigeration and freezing of products which are crucial to reducing the amount of edible food thrown away.”
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, explained, “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.”