Food waste: should the use-by dates be removed from products?

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British supermarket chain Waitrose has announced the removal of best before dates on nearly 500 products. Objective: to fight against food waste. But in France, are consumers ready to do without these food indication dates that are so deeply rooted in their daily lives? Decryption.

“The French are very attached to consumption dates, they grew up with them, so it makes sense for them to follow them without asking questions,” explains Simon Foucault, head of public affairs for the anti-waste company. food, Too good to go. Use-by date, minimum durability date, recommended use-by date… Our products are covered with dates and, with them, there is confusion among consumers and an increase in food waste.

“10% of European food waste is caused by consumption dates”, regrets the specialist. To fight against these tons of food thrown in the trash, the British supermarket chain Waitrose has decided to remove the date of minimum durability on nearly 500 products. “It’s a very good measure for sure, but you still have to know the difference between ‘to consume until’ and ‘to consume preferably before'”, points out the manager.

“Our generation tends to throw the product away as soon as the date has passed”

The use-by date (or expiry date) is an imperative health date, beyond which the product cannot be consumed. The date of minimum durability (DDM) is an indicative date beyond which the product will lose its taste quality, but will not present any risk to health.

According to Too good to go, eight out of ten French people could tell the difference, “but unlike our grandparents who trusted more to their sense of smell and taste, our generation tends to throw the product away as soon as the product is outdated. , even if there is no health risk”, regrets Simon Foucault.

The dates of consumption create assistantship in the consumer, “he no longer trusts himself and no longer trusts his senses of smell, vision, taste”, explains Lauriane Rabaud, dietician in the Toulouse region. Pedagogy is therefore required so that the consumer can once again become an actor in his diet. “Once we have sensitized a large part of the people, then we can encourage the abolition of the DDM”, hopes the manager.

Meat and fish are the foods most at risk

In order for consumers to be independent in their food choice, the dietician reviews the most common products and their “real” expiry date. “It is the products rich in water that are the most risky because it is in the water that all the bacteria develop.”, she explains. So there is no danger to your health if you consume dry products after their expiry date. Regarding fruits and vegetables, the dietician advises to rely on your visual and taste senses.

On the other hand, for meat and fish, “foods at high risk of developing bacteria”, they must be consumed as quickly as possible, “especially minced meat which must be eaten during the day”. For small homemade dishes, “which are less resistant than industrial dishes”, they can be kept for 3 to 5 days in the fridge.

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Finally, with regard to dairy products, yogurts, hard cheeses, parsley can be eaten beyond two weeks from the expiry date. But it is advisable to respect the date for fresh cheeses and those made from raw milk. “The regulations on the labels are very strict to cover any health risk, so consumers really have to trust each other to avoid unnecessary waste,” concludes the dietician.

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