A new scientific review paper argues that changes in date labelling on food products leads to confusion and misunderstanding in the marketplace with regards to the way the dates relate to the quality and safety of food.
According to the review paper in July’s Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, different regulatory date labelling frameworks detract from limited regulatory resources, causing financial loss and considerably contributing to food waste.
The authors say that the date-marking system should be uniform to better inform and educate the consumer, and provide clear and simple directions on food quality and safety. They also called for revisiting this issue among regulatory agencies.
Most consumers were found to be unclear over the difference between the terms ‘use by’ and ‘best before’ date, as well as the extent of food waste occurring within the household.
The authors call for collaboration to address the challenges faced by food manufacturers, retailers, government officials, consumers and other stakeholders. By educating consumers about date labelling, the importance of temperature control and limited shelf life for some food products, food storage guidance, and safe handling methods can be stressed.
Image: Consumers are not clear about the difference between the terms ‘use by’ and ‘best before’ date. Photo: courtesy of Bando26.