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Waste Reduction

By eliminating use-by dates, you can save a lot of food

The avocado, before it reaches a European supermarket shelf, has emitted 1,3 kilograms of CO2. The avocado’s production consumes 60 gallons of water. The fruit is often thrown away as household waste.

Each stage of the supply chain for food is affected by waste, but the household food waste rate is the highest. British households waste approximately 6.7 million tons of food every year. This is equivalent to 32% of the total amount of food purchased.

Food waste in the home is notoriously difficult for households to manage. According to studies, consumers are often unaware of the environmental impact of food waste and are rarely held responsible for it.

Mismanagement of household food waste results in excessive food waste.

Many of these wastes could have been avoided if the food had been managed better. Waitrose has joined a growing group of food retailers who have removed date labels, such as “use-by,” “best-before,” and “best-before,” from certain fresh food items to reduce household waste.

In the past, studies have shown that date labels are important in influencing consumer decisions. Nearly 60% of Western European consumers who were surveyed “always” checked date labels when purchasing food items or preparing meals.

However, the application of date labels has been criticized for a long time. A recent study linked consumers’ inability to understand date labeling to a higher likelihood of making irrational decisions. Research shows that consumers reject food with a date expiration, on average leaving 56.7%.

The Institute of Food Technologists also questions whether date labels can be used to accurately measure food safety, since post-packaging temperatures cannot be controlled.

It is therefore encouraging to remove date labels. Date labels can contain information that is often misleading and may affect the perception of consumers about what they eat. Instead, the consumer is encouraged to check fresh food items.

advise that consumers receive in the case of avocados is that the fruit should have “a pleasant and slightly sweet smell” when it’s ripe. The skin should also be “dark brown or green”. The information also includes how the avocado should feel, look and smell when it is “overripe”. The hope is that consumers who are better informed will be less likely than others to throw out food based on a past-due date.

According to the Waste and Resources Action Programme , approximately 50,000 tons of food waste can be prevented each year in UK if only date labels are removed from apples, bananas and potatoes.

Should retailers do more?

Industry stakeholders insist that retailers have a duty to do more .

According to some research, retailers should explore other ways of labelling in order to better serve consumers’ informational requirements. Rescripted date label, such as “best before” or “often good after”, may encourage consumers to accept “date-expired foods” in the knowledge that they are still safe.

Encourage people to purchase the right amount of food. This is another way to reduce food waste. Supermarkets face increased pressure in order to sell loose goods. WRAP predicts significant waste reductions if this is implemented nationally.

Change the behavior of consumers.

It is often regarded as the key to reducing waste of food. The science behind the date label can be better understood through targeted campaigns and community outreach programs. The campaigns can encourage consumers to buy local food and take part in urban agriculture schemes.

study conducted at the University of Sussex examined the fruit and vegetable production from 34 urban plots. The researchers found that urban gardeners could produce 1 kg of fruit and vegetable per square metre. This is comparable to a conventional farm.


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Jane S. King

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