Expired Food

27th October 2019

Best before dates and expired food is an interesting topic. When I ask my Grandparents about expiry dates they call them ‘rubbish’, unless it’s meat of course. For example if theres a loaf of bread in their kitchen that is out of date, they’ll still eat it. My Nan says if it ‘looks alright, smells alright and tastes alright’ then it’s fine. Again I feel that this is a generational thing, as they grew up in a household that did not waste food. I feel that people think ‘best before’ means that you literally have to eat it before the date, they take it as gospel.

Chitra Ramaswamy wrote an article for The Guardian in 2015 titled ‘The nine rules of best-before dates: when to freeze, when to chuck out food’. According to the article, a shoppers could save ‘£600 million’ if best before dates were ‘extended by just one day’.

Susi Richards, the head of product development at Sainsbury’s advises people to keep fruit in the fridge. Richards claims that if customers refrigerate their apples for example, they can ‘extend their life by weeks’. Pickles, preserves, sugar and salt ‘never go off’ and best before dates ‘can be gleefully ignored’. With preserves, it is the quality that fades over time, the actual product is still edible. Root vegetables ‘can keep for weeks’ claims food expert  Joanna Blythman. Blythman suggests simply to ‘cut off the sprouting bits and pare back the mould’.

The “once open, consume within x days,” label implies quality not food safety. This again is misleading as it encourages consumers to throw the food away, instead of eating it. Another confusion is the ‘display until’ label. Some mistake it for an indication as to when they should eat the food by. However it has nothing to do with consumers and are simply used to ‘help with stock control’.

“A nose is a powerful tool,” says Blythman. “Consumers have been deskilled by the food-safety establishment, but the old techniques of touching and smelling still hold.” I feel that this reiterates what my Grandparents say about food. After reading this article it has made me think about how the food industry tricks people into wasting food and buying more as a result. I feel that people do not think about this. If they knew perhaps there would be less waste. 

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