The expiration date of food, an outdated idea?

Review expiration dates

Food waste represents 10 million tonnes per year in France and costs 16 billion euros. Responsible for 20% of food waste in homes, expiration dates are said to be the biggest source of waste in mass distribution! Not surprising when we know that almost half of consumers have difficulty understanding expiration dates.

To fight against waste, Too Good To Go, the leading application for reselling unsold items, is publishing a white paper “Expiration dates, an outdated idea?”. A plea co-signed and supported by an ecological association France Nature Environnement, which concentrates the conclusions of the October 2018 round table with the agri-food giants but also consumer associations, to revise the expiration dates and make them, a true health indicator, durable and reliable.

Waste, the cause of dates

“Use-by Date” and “Minimum Duration Date” are often confused by the consumer. If the minimum durability date (DDM) is an indicator of quality (after the date the product may lose certain qualities but does not present a health risk), exceeding the expiration date (DLC) may present problems. risks for the consumer. The idea supported in the white paper would be to rethink the mention of MDD (by adding to the mention “preferably before” the mention “but also after” to indicate to the consumer that the product does not present any risk after this date ). The impact would be measurable and immediate, according to Too Good To Go. “By adding an extra day to the lifespan of products, food waste would be reduced by 0.3%, or a 20% reduction in food waste. Distributors could save 80,000 tonnes of food, food waste would be reduced by 170,000 kilos in households, with a financial gain of 350,000 euros! » Encouraging figures to raise awareness among manufacturers to act together and shed light on consumer behavior in a more responsible direction.

Foods without an expiration date

Not all products need an expiration date. This is the case for sugar, salt, vinegar and honey. Rice, pasta, cornstarch, flour, pulses, cereals, cans can be consumed very long after the expiration date. Grocery products such as mustard, ketchup, pickles as well as all spices, stock cubes, powdered preparations and carton products are consumed long after the deadline.

Conversely, some products have limitation dates that are too short. This is the case for yogurts which can be consumed up to two weeks after the date, frozen products which can also be kept for a long time after the date indicated if the cold chain has not been broken, and the freezer is working. normally (without ice on the walls). Downside for meats, vacuum-packed raw fish and cold meats which are the favorite playgrounds of bacteria and for which the expiration date is carefully monitored.

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