Measures needed to educate consumers on food waste

By Aaron McDonald

- Last updated on GMT

EU consumers are displaying a lack of awareness over dates on food labels
EU consumers are displaying a lack of awareness over dates on food labels

Related tags: Food waste, European union, Processing and packaging Innovation

A European Commission report has highlighted a lack of consumer understanding across Europe when it comes to dates on food labels. 

The survey revealed that less than half of the European population don’t fully understand the meaning of ‘best before’, whilst 60% were unclear on the definition of ‘use by’.

These results have been welcomed by Dan Cluderay, entrepreneur and best-before-date awareness campaigner.

The topic founded the basis of an international conference named ‘Fight Food Waste, Feed the Planet’, in Milan earlier this week. Its aim was to highlight the commitment from the European Union to address resource efficiency and waste management as focus points of EU environmental policy and the Europe 2020 strategy. The study reportedly concluded that there was a need to follow up on educational initiatives.

“Earlier this year a report was issued by the UN which revealed that if we cut food waste by just a quarter we could comfortably tackle poverty,”​ explained Cluderay.

Cluderay is the founder of Approved Food, an exclusively online discount grocer that allows excess stock and goods that are nearing their best-before-date to find a way to market. Since establishing the enterprise in 2008, Approved Food has salvaged a reported 32 million items destined for landfill through its work with suppliers, manufacturers, supermarkets and distributers.

“In a time of great austerity when so many people are struggling to make ends meet we must pay attention to such a staggering statistic and ask ourselves, ‘how can I make a difference?”

EU commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis, who is responsible for health and food safety, claimed to be pleased that so many Europeans recognise that they can do something in helping to prevent food waste.

Furthermore, he said that the figure of food waste has the potential to rise to over 120 million tonnes by 2020 if we do not take precautions.

Cluderay continued to add that now the evidence has been gathered, it is time that we act upon the information. “It’s not great that the findings of the survey showed such a fundamental lack of understanding about the difference between best-before-dates and use-by-dates amongst such a significant number of the population, but what it does do is give us insight into what needs to be done.

“Ultimately, we need to step it up a gear when it comes to educating people on the difference between the two; making sure people have all the facts to make a solid, sensible decision about what they are prepared to eat – helping to reduce the amount of food destined for landfill that is perfectly safe to consume.”

He concluded by saying that the time to act on food reduction is now: “Over seven million tonnes of food is wasted in the UK alone every single year. Through targeted education, leading to greater awareness, we have the ability to bring this right down – contributing positively to the economy and the environment.”

Related topics: Meat

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