As part of its work to reduce household food waste, resource charity WRAP has unveiled changes to the way food packaging will be labelled.
The aim, said WRAP – the Waste & Resources Action Programme – is changes to labels to “give shoppers simpler, more consistent storage and date label advice”.
Two million tonnes of food is wasted each year in UK homes purely from it not being used in time, according to WRAP. And, the charity said a third of this food waste is triggered because of how shoppers interpret existing date labels.
New guidance, published today (29 November) by WRAP and produced in association with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Defra, sets out best practice in the choice and application of date labels and storage advice.
It will be used by food manufacturers, retailers and brands as the industry standard and brings together recommendations that ensure food is safe and adheres to legal requirements, with best practice information to ensure it is stored and used within time.
A new addition is the call to use helpful logos alongside text more often, which consumers find easier to understand than text alone, WRAP reports. The organisation is calling for the freezing ‘Snowflake’ logo to be reinstated where it might have been removed, and introduces a new ‘Little Blue Fridge’ icon for foods which should be kept chilled, or benefit from being kept in the fridge.
Commenting on the guidance, environment minister, Thérèse Coffey said: “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.”
Dr Coffey has encouraged all food businesses to use the guidance to guide the public on the refrigeration and freezing of products which she said “are crucial to reducing the amount of edible food thrown away”.
Marcus Gover, chief executive at WRAP explained: “A key way to help reduce household food waste is to give people as long as possible to use the food they buy. Labelling information can help with many aspects of this.
“That’s why I’m delighted that industry has been so involved in developing this guidance, and for the support of the FSA and Defra.”
“A key way to help reduce household food waste is to give people as long as possible to use the food they buy. Labelling information can help with many aspects of this.”Marcus Gover
Heather Hancock, chairman of the Food Standards Agency, added: “I welcome this clear guidance to help tackle food waste, without compromising the safety of food. It will help businesses supply food that is properly described and stored, and safely provided to consumers.”
WRAP said it is currently working with the UK’s largest food companies and manufacturers to help them implement changes across own brand and branded items.
WRAP estimates that technical changes to packaging and labelling identified in its Retailer Survey could help cut around 350,000 tonnes of household food waste a year by 2025, saving shoppers around £1 billion a year in wasted food.