European ministers consider ending best-before dates

Members of the governments of Sweden and the Netherlands are advocating removing the obligation to display a best before date on certain food sold within the EU...

Members of the governments of Sweden and the Netherlands are advocating removing the obligation to display a best before date on certain food sold within the EU.

The suggestion was made during a Council of the European Union meeting of agriculture and fisheries ministers on 19 May. The Swedish-Dutch suggestion was made as one possible solution to cut some of the 89 million tonnes of foods that is wasted across the community each year. Removing an artificial cut-off date would discourage EU consumers from throwing away perfectly edible food, it is believed.

The proposal has been supported by representatives from the Austrian, Danish, German and Luxembourg national governments.
In a paper outlining the suggestion says: 'The Netherlands and Sweden are of the opinion that probably more products, which have a long shelf life and retain their quality for a very long time, could be exempted from the requirement to provide a "best before" date on the label.' This obligation is contained in EU Consumer Food Information Regulation 1169/2011 - exemptions are listed in Annex X.

Besides expanding Annex X, the authors suggest an information campaign to better educate Europeans about the difference between best-before marks and use-by dates found on perishable items like meat and poultry.

Any comments arising out of the Council of Ministers' initiative may be taken on board by the European Commission. The commission is set to publish a policy paper on sustainable food later in 2014. A priority topic for this will be steps that could be taken to minimise food losses.

 

This article comes from Food Contact World, which provides exclusive news and analysis on developments in food contact material , markets, and technologies.

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