EU to remove ‘best-before’ labels from certain food products

20 May 2014 (Last Updated May 20th, 2014 18:30)

The EU will put forth new proposals to allow national governments to extend the list of foods that do not require best-before dates in order to cut down on food waste across Europe.

Coffee beans

The EU will put forth new proposals to allow national governments to extend the list of foods that do not require best-before dates in order to cut down on food waste across Europe.

EU agriculture ministers discussed a document that argued best-before dates are inappropriate for food such as rice, pasta and coffee that can be stored for a longer period. The move would also remove dates from hard cheeses, jams and pickles to slow the wastage of edible produce.

The document estimates that 89 million tonnes of edible food is discarded in the continent annually. Its proposal would save up to 15t of food per household.

Dutch Agriculture Minister Sharon Dijksma said that labelling is based more on quality than health, which consumers can judge for themselves.

"Approximately 15% of food waste is caused by expiry dates on packaging," she added.

Existing EU labeling legislation requires all food products to carry a best-before date irrespective of shelf life.

A report is being prepared on a sustainable food system by The European Commission to take into account growing worries relating to food security.


Image: Food products such as rice, pasta and coffee do not require a best-before date according to the document. Photo: courtesy of zole4 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.