Food waste measures fall short of law change

By staff

Ministers have shied away from changing the law when it comes to a review of food waste.

The government is set to change guidelines affecting the ‘best before’ date on food and could require retailers to outline the health impacts of eating food which have not been consumed quickly, the Sunday Telegraph reported.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said there would not be any change in existing legislation, however.

A spokesperson said: “By law pre-packed food must show a best-before date, even though many foods are still safe to eat after that date.

“This is very different from the ‘use by’ date that shows when food is no longer safe and should be thrown away. Being clear on the difference between the two could help us all to reduce our food waste.”

A coalition source told the Sunday Telegraph that many staple foods like mushrooms and tomatoes were marked ‘best before’ when the only deterioration they suffered was a loss of colouring or going “a bit soft”.

Bread would require only limited health advice, whilst more dangerous foods like eggs or prawns – which carry a higher risk of food poisoning if not immediately eaten – would need more detailed warnings, it was reported.

The average British household with children spends £50 a month on food which could have been eaten but is thrown away, according to the Waste and Resources Action Programme campaign group.

It says the UK wastes around 18.4 million tonnes of food and drink every year worth roughly £17 billion.