Are sell-by dates past their use-by date?

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Are sell-by dates past their use-by date?

by Cavan Scott » Wed Aug 12, 2009 11:57 am

John Craven writes about food waste in our latest issue. Here's an excerpt:

I’ve been careful not to waste food ever since I carried out an investigation for Countryfile and discovered that, as a nation, we throw away more than £10bn worth of perfectly good grub every year. Families with children dump 27 percent of all the food they buy; it ends up, untouched, in landfill. Most families, I’m sure, can’t afford to be that wasteful and if we carry on at this rate, there won’t be any suitable space left to take it.
One solution is anaerobic digestion – collecting food waste and turning it into electricity and fertiliser. It’s been pioneered at Ludlow in Shropshire with great success, powering more than 300 houses. And because householders have to bin unwanted food separately, they’ve realised just how much there is and are cutting back on purchases. But it would take decades for such a system to make an impact nationally and we need action quickly to tackle the root causes of our disgraceful mountains of waste.
Here’s a start – there’s pressure now to get rid of those labels that say ‘sell by’, ‘best before’ and ‘display until’. They’re useful to shops but confuse customers. Five million potatoes that could have been eaten are thrown away every day, as well as a million loaves and goodness knows what else. What’s wrong with having just one label with the instruction: use by? The government is considering such a measure – and about time, too. As many a good cook has said: “You can tell when food isn’t fit to eat – it smells!”

What do you think? Are our sell-by dates past their use-by date? Is there any way back from the food-wasting culture we seem to have become?

Cavan Scott
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Re: Are sell-by dates past their use-by date?

by joey lump » Thu Aug 13, 2009 12:03 am

Isn't the trouble that shops are now absolutely terrified that someone will sue them if they get food poisoning?

We've lost our common sense about food, and also, with it becoming so cheap, it's easier just to throw it away!
joey lump
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Re: Are sell-by dates past their use-by date?

by wendy w » Thu Aug 13, 2009 12:30 pm

My mother would be appalled at what we throw away. In our house, the sunday roast lasted all week through left-overs.
wendy w
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Re: Are sell-by dates past their use-by date?

by Mayo » Thu Aug 13, 2009 12:37 pm

This is legislation dreamt up by the FSA and its predecessor the department of public health, it is entirely based on food manufacturers avoiding the problem of being sued by consumers. I don't see how you can recommend we disacrd this system, given that culinary standards in britain are dropping drastically. You'd be suprised how many young mothers do not actually own a saucepan.
'The act of putting into your mouth what the earth has grown
is perhaps your most direct interaction with the earth'

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Re: Are sell-by dates past their use-by date?

by wendy w » Thu Aug 13, 2009 12:44 pm

Another tragedy. There was that programme with Jamie Oliver where people didn't know how to boil water. I could have cried.
wendy w
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