How “best-before” and “use-by dates” affect food waste
Every day there are more and more food alerts and product recalls due to mislabelling.
And this is not because the industry “produces worse” or is less controlled; on the contrary, fortunately, legislation is more demanding, it is continually being revised and there is greater control by governments and administrations over it and its information to consumers. Consumers are becoming better informed and more aware of food waste. But let’s take it one step at a time.
How to identify if a given food meets all the conditions to be consumed?
Traditionally when a product is “fresh” (freshly harvested, caught, hunted,…), the appearance of signs of organoleptic degradation in colour, smell, appearance,… help the consumer to detect and therefore reject the product before it reaches levels that can cause damage to our health. When a food has been processed (washed, prepared, bagged or packaged, pasteurised, frozen or sterilised), the consumer requires additional information to understand whether or not the food is safe to consume. This need gives rise to two very important concepts that directly affect food waste: use-by date and best-before date.
Do you know the difference between the expiration date and the best-before date?
Expiration date (AESAN): The expiry date indicates the time until which the food can be safely consumed.
As guidelines for the safe consumption of these foods, it is established:
Do not consume any food after the ‘best-before’ date.
Follow the storage instructions, e.g. “keep in the refrigerator” or “keep at 2-4 °C”, otherwise the food will spoil sooner and there is a risk of food poisoning if consumed.
Once a package with a ‘best-before’ date has been opened, follow the storage and consumption instructions, e.g. ‘once opened, consume within three days’, bearing in mind that the food must be consumed before the ‘best-before’ date has passed.
Recommended best-before date (AESAN): The best-before date indicates the time until which the food retains the expected (organoleptic) quality.
As a guideline for the consumption of these foods:
The food is still safe for the consumer after the “best-before” date, as long as the storage instructions are respected and its packaging is not damaged; however, it may start to lose flavour and texture.
When opening a package of food with a “best before” date, follow the instructions, e.g. “once opened, use within three days”.
Vegetable canned products are products that have a best-before date, and therefore, they can be consumed for a long time after their production, and even if they have been preserved correctly (without bruises or oxidation), they can be consumed later without risk.
This is why a good vegetable canned product, made from fresh produce, km=0, with no added preservatives, and with a long best before date (ranging from 3 to 5 years) is an ally in the reduction of food waste and long-term sustainability (as it does not require refrigeration in its logistics or conservation).
Correct labelling equals a consumer who is well informed of the differences between these two dates which equals a distribution chain that controls and plans stocks and product dates well and is also mindful of food waste, are today the key to better quality, safer and more sustainable food.
What is SISTERS?
SISTERS is a European project that works primarily on raising awareness of the entire chain from the field/sea to the table, from the Producer to the Administration, so that the use of the total useful life of food helps to reduce food waste as much as possible.
The Real Green Food Co. vegetable company, through its fresh mushroom business unit (Ayecue) participates in the SISTERS project.
By Admin|2022-10-17T10:45:31+00:00September 26, 2022|News|
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