Use By Date: Do Use By Dates Increase Food Waste?
Use By Date: Take a look and inspect your bought groceries from the store. Ask yourself. “Can I still eat this?”
Naturally, you first take a look at its expiration date. More commonly known as “use by” or “best before”, are they really accurate? Furthermore, is it right to dispose of them immediately?
To know more about how to properly dispose of food waste, check out our blog here.
Let us look further into use by dates and their effects.
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Use By Date: Best Before Vs Use By
Generally, a best before date and use by date have specific differences.
According to the Food Authority NSW, a “best before” marked food that has gone overdue is still technically edible. Additionally, food with overdue best before dates are expected to retain their colour, texture and flavour with proper storage.
This includes food like canned foods, cereals, biscuits, sauces, chocolate, sugar, flour, and frozen foods.
It is still legal to sell overdue best before date food for as long as they meet the standards.
Unlike best before marks, use by marks that are overdue should not be consumed anymore. This is due to the fact that the nutrients become unstable or bacteria have taken over the food already.
Food with the label “use by” dates include milk, meat products, and produces such as fruits and vegetables.
They are illegal to sell with overdue use by dates.
While you’re at it, why don’t you take a look at our blog on animal feed and food waste? You can find it here.
Use By Date: Is Food Waste Unavoidable?
From the moment the food is processed up until consumption, food – or portions of food – gets wasted every day.
According to an article, the United Nations stated that 2.9 trillion – or 1.3 billion tonnes – of food is wasted every day. Yes, you read that right!
Many people from across the world do not have the luck of doing such a thing. People are starving, yet some people take that for granted and waste food.
Instead of discarded food (due to overdue use by dates) being donated or given to the less fortunate, some find its way to landfill where it decomposes and produces methane gas that fuels global warming some more.
There are numerous food bank charities in Australia such as SecondBite.
I can’t blame them. This is due to the fact that mis-labeling of food is the reason why many get paranoid and put them in their bins. Once you have had food poisoning – it is something you never want again! Once bitten, twice shy.
In fact, it is not just the consumers who waste food in general waste, the entire food supply chain is to blame.
For one, retailers shortened the span of use by dates of food products over the last decade, a perfectly understandable reason why people are frequently throwing loads of good food into their bins.
Second, manufacturers tend to waste food by not making optimal use of trimmings and rejects.
Another reason is poor packaging. Manufacturers of food fail to produce food with optimal shelf life because of poor packaging. With the proper packaging, use by dates can be extended. Read our blog about sustainable packaging and its benefits here.
In Italy, did you know that 5 million pizzas are baked every day? That is an estimated 1.5 billion pizzas produced every year!
Now, let’s say that for every pizza that is baked, about 125 millilitres of tomato sauce is wasted in creating that pizza. That would amount to 625,00 litres of tomato sauce being wasted in a day and incalculable amounts in a year- that is just in Italy! It really makes you think [about how much food is being wasted every year], right?
Now, are people doing enough to help stop – or at least reduce – food waste?
Use By Date: Sustainable Food Products
In order to extend the life of a food product, certain things have to be implemented. In return, people won’t have to think about the use by date of food products too much.
One way to extend the use by date of food products is through a process called Modified Atmosphere Packaging, or MAP for short.
According to this site, this is what MAP is all about:
“Everyone knows that food does not stay fresh forever.”
They continued with the statement:
“One of the main causes of the spoilage of food is the growth of microbes such as bacteria, yeasts and mould that are present all around us, even in and on our own bodies.”
To sum it all up, this is their true goal:
“To keep food fresh for as long as possible without additives is a challenge and one key technology for achieving this goal is to seal the food product in a package which contains a mixture of natural gases in carefully controlled proportions that significantly slow down the process of decay by inhibiting processes of oxidation and the growth of microbes.”
In short, MAP aims to prolong both the best before date and use by date to ensure sustainability.
Good news: a wide variety of products can be packaged using MAP. This includes food products such as meat, cheese, milk, pasta, produces, meals, poultry, and seafood.
As a human being, you should be responsible for handling your food. Throwing food away is a real cost to you and the planet.
Know the differences between use by dates and best before dates to make sure that you do not waste food products. In doing so, you reduce wasted food products that can surely benefit the Earth.
As stated by famous astronaut Neil Armstrong, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”
The same can be said in reducing food waste, one small action may lead to a worldwide scale in due time.
Waster: Here To Help
Here at Waster, we have all the possible services you want to avail in terms of waste management.
For this topic that mainly tacked about use by dates, we also provide waste management for that! Take a look at our organic waste service here.