Little Blue Fridge and clearer date labels to save thousands of tonnes of food

Supermarket aisle

Food and drinks brands have been issued with new guidance to make date labels clearer, with the aim of reducing the amount of decent food that gets binned.

According to WRAP, the people behind the guidance, 2 million tonnes of food is wasted each year in UK homes because it is not eaten in time, and one-third of this is due to 'how shoppers interpret existing date labels'.

The best practice guidance to retailers, brands and manufacturers recommends that only a 'best before' date is used. 'Display until' should go, since it's just for retailers and is therefore confusing to consumers, and a 'use by' date should only be printed on packaging 'when there is a food safety reason'.

There are calls to have better and clearer storage advice like 'freeze on date of purchase' on more packaging as relevant, and more logos – like the freeze-friendly Snowflake stamp – alongside text because they're easier to understand. WRAP has also introduced a new logo for foods that should be or would benefit from being kept chilled: the Little Blue Fridge.

WRAP ZWS labels blue fridge

The Environment Minister, Thérèse Coffey, welcomes WRAP's report, which was produced in association with the Food Standards Agency and Defra.

She says: "We know that confusing labels can contribute to food waste by suggesting that edible items need to be thrown away sooner than is necessary. This new guidance will make packaging much clearer for consumers, saving them money and reducing waste."

WRAP says it'll take a while for us to see the new labels the average retailer stocks between 20,000 and 30,000 different products, it says – but changes are already being made.

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