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UK Label Changes: Setting U.S. Precedent?
by QA Staff - 19/10/2011
"England's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has published guidance recommending that food and drink manufacturers remove "sell by" and "display until" labels from packaging."
The recommendation that packaging only carry either "use by" or best before" dating was made to avoid consumer confusion.
The guidance was produced in consultation with UK food manufacturers, supermarkets, trade associations, consumer groups, food law enforcement bodies, and Waste and Resources Action Program (WRAP). According to WRAP, at least 60% of the 8.3 million tons of UK household food and drink waste is avoidable. WRAP research identified confusion over date labeling as one cause.
The guidance for food producers outlines that "use by" labels should be used only to signify that the food could be unsafe after that date. Most other foods should have a "best before" date only, to indicate when the food is no longer at its best, but is still safe to eat.
Defra notes that the guidance is also designed so the food industry can develop more detailed advice for their specific products that minimizes confusion for consumers and food waste while keeping food safe.
Examples of foods likely to require a "use by" date include soft cheese, ready-to-eat meals, and smoked fish; "best before" would be used for products such as cookies, jams, pickles, crackers, and canned foods. The Guidance to the Application of Date Marks to Food is available http://www.defra.gov.uk/food-farm/food/labelling.
More Details: http://www.qualityassurancemag.com/qa1011-news-uk-food-labels.aspx