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A third of Brits admit to throwing food away solely based on the best before date

To mark Stop Food Waste Day (24th April 2024), Too Good To Go, the social impact company behind the world’s largest marketplace for surplus food, reveals… View Article

FOOD AND DRINK NEWS UK

A third of Brits admit to throwing food away solely based on the best before date

To mark Stop Food Waste Day (24th April 2024), Too Good To Go, the social impact company behind the world’s largest marketplace for surplus food, reveals the shocking reality of date label confusion, with consumers blindly binning food items due to a lapsed Best Before date.

A quarter (25%) of Brits throw away food past its best before date without checking it’s edible, and a third of Brits (29%) admit to throwing food away solely due to the best before date. A further 1 in 10 (11%) don’t feel confident in explaining the definition of the ‘sell by’ date on food items, and 14% are not confident in explaining the ‘display until’ date.

This is leading to a sheer volume of food wasted at home, with Brits wasting 19.4 million food items every single day according to this new research. That’s a whopping 135.8 million items a week.

A ‘weekend waste’ phenomenon has also emerged, with most adults throwing away more food on Fridays, Saturday and Sundays than any other day of the week due to having a mish-mash of leftovers they don’t know what to do with.

On average, while Brits go to the supermarket two times a week, nearly half of us (45%) admit to throwing away items due to needing to replace items.  A further 1 in 5 (20%) work more on certain days and don’t have time to use up leftovers, and 1 in 5 (19%) eat out more on some days and don’t use up the leftovers at home.

Younger generations are contributing the most to usable food waste, with 16-24 year olds admitting to throwing away three items per week on average, compared to over 55’s throwing away only one item per week.

Over half of adults over 55 (55%) keep food past its ‘best before’ date, whereas only 28% of those aged 16-24 do, due to confusion over date labels. Older generations are also the most knowledgeable on properly storing food, with 70% claiming they are confident in the area, compared to just 48% of those aged 16-24.

The research further reveals that Brits who live with friends are more likely to ditch usable food items – throwing away three items on average per week vs. Brits who live alone who throw away one item per week on average.

Jamie Crummie, co-founder of Too Good To Go says, “We are on a mission to fight food waste, and believe that by adapting your habits you make the most out of everything you buy.

One of the reasons households are a main contributor to food waste is because many of us don’t know the difference between ‘Best Before’, ‘Sell By’, ‘Display Until’ and ‘Use By’. This is causing a whopping ten percent of Europe’s food waste – 9,000,000 tonnes across Europe each year.

At Too Good To Go, we are encouraging households to sense-check food instead of blindly binning it due to a lapsed date with our ‘Look, Smell, Taste, Don’t Waste’ advice. It is a simple way for households to reduce food waste, save money and cut down their emissions.”

LOOK, SMELL, TASTE

  1. Look: Check the food for signs of visual decay. 
  2. Smell: Sniff the food to test whether it smells as it usually would.
  3. Taste: Taste a small amount of the food to check whether it’s turned unusually tangy or sour.

GLOSSARY OF TERMS:

USE BY: 

  • Where you’ll see it: On food that goes off quickly – think fish, meat products, and salads-to-go
  • What it means: Food will be unsafe to consume after this date
  • Any exceptions? You can extend the life of use by food by freezing – although you must freeze it before the use by date passes.

BEST BEFORE: 

  • Where you’ll see it: On packaged foods such as frozen, tinned, or dried items
  • What it means: Food may have lost some of its flavour or texture after this date
  • What it doesn’t mean: Food will be unsafe to eat after this date. If the date has passed but the food still looks, smells, and tastes okay, you’re in the clear

DISPLAY UNTIL OR SELL BY 

  • Where you’ll see it: On all kinds of products
  • What it means: Nothing that concerns you!
  • What it doesn’t mean: To help the staff in shops know how long products have been sitting on shelves. These labels aren’t required by law.

For more information on the Too Good To Go ‘Look, Smell, Taste, Don’t Waste’ campaign, please see here


Too Good To Go shares top tips to reduce food waste at home

  • Get creative with your leftovers: Nowadays, many of us are in the habit of wanting to eat something new every day, but don’t be afraid to get creative with adapting a simple dish. For example, you can change a classic Bolognese sauce into a chilli con carne, meat pie or even a lasagne. Or why not try to plan a ‘potluck dinner’ once a week? Bring out all your leftover portions from the week and share with your housemates, family or friends for a fun DIY, meze style dinner.
  • Make use of the whole ingredient: Embrace the chance to explore new ways of working with ingredients. Why not have a go at making a broccoli pesto using the broccoli stalks that you’d usually throw away, or keeping the peel on your potatoes when you’re mashing them? Little changes like these really can make all the difference.
  • Don’t discount fruit and veg based on how it looks: Don’t judge food by its appearance! Oddly shaped or bruised fruits and vegetables are often thrown away because they don’t look ‘perfect’ but in reality, they taste exactly the same. Even those more mature fruit and vegetables are perfect for smoothies or juices.
  • Take care of how you store your food: Storing your food properly is one of the keys to extending its lifespan. For instance, onions can make root vegetables go bad quickly so best to keep them stored apart from things like potatoes or carrots. And many fruits like apples, pears, bananas and nectarines emit a natural chemical called ethylene which causes premature ripening, so always keep these away from each other so they can ripen at a steady pace.
  • Check your fridge temperature: Keeping your fridge at the correct temperature is also key for keeping your food fresh. Setting it at below 5°C is ideal for extending the life of perishable foods like milk or yoghurts.
  • When in doubt, freeze: The oldest trick in the book! Virtually anything can be frozen if you don’t think you’re going to be able to eat it in time. Batch-cooking meals to keep in the freezer for a later date is a great way to make sure your fresh ingredients can still get used while they’re at their best.
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