Retailers are being encouraged to ditch old food labels, and replace them with new ones designed by WRAP, the Food Standards Agency and Defra to reduce food waste.
According to WRAP, this move will help fight the two million tonnes of food waste that is generated annually in UK homes.
This is due to unused products being thrown out by the expiration date, with a third of waste down to how shoppers understand date labels.
The guidance will be used by food manufacturers, retailers and brands as the industry standard, and will bring together recommendations to ensure food is safe and follows the legal requirements.
As part of this call, the organisations are asking for useful logos to be placed alongside text more often, which they believe, consumers will find easier to comprehend.
These logos include a freezing snowflake, which they hope will be placed where it might have been removed, and a new little blue fridge icon for foods which should be kept chilled.
This guidance follows WRAP’s 2015 retailers survey, which discovered that changes to products, packaging and labelling avoided nearly 150,000 tonnes of food being wasted in 2015, saving families in the UK around £400 million.
UK 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.”
WRAP has already noted its developments:
More pasteurised fruit juices and hard cheeses, with nearly all carrying a “Best Before” date
More fresh produce carrying guidance to store in the fridge
The “freeze on day of purchase” being replaced by “freeze before the date shown”, especially fresh meat.
The new guidance includes recommendations, such as “Use By” dates only be included on foods where there is a likelihood of food being unsafe in a short period of time.
It also suggests that an increased use of “Best Before” dates are vital, as foods carrying this label can be redistributed, even after the date has passed.
According to WRAP, to fight household food waste, there needs to be a change in actions taken at home. This is why it is calling for people to not be concerned about the labels, but instead understand what they tell us and act upon its advice.