Food labels: EU towards the anti-waste change of deadlines

When it comes to food, it waste is a pressing issue and to limit it theUE is ready to focus on the modification of food labels and related wordings deadlines of the products. The proposal is to add, where possible, the formula “Often good as well”. The goal is to invite the consumer to awareness and make the whole system more sustainable.

Towards the new labels

On 8 March 2023, the European Commission presented the representatives of the Member States with a proposal for revision of the rules relating to the expiry dates indicated on food labels. The EU aims to add to the formula “Best before“the wording”Often good as well”. According to experts, the new practice could help consumers better understand the labels and to focus on the fact that the date often represents more of a rough indication than a limit mandatory. The decision regarding the elimination of foods would, therefore, be taken more aware and it waste could be significantly reduced. Such a project had already been presented in 2020as part of the strategy Farm to Forkunder the European Green Deal.

Food labels and deadlines

The EU proposal to change the information relating to deadlines on food labels stems from the desire to make the fight against waste more concrete. Often, in fact, consumers do not understand the difference among the formulas commonly indicated on the product packaging. The written “To be consumed before” is to be understood with reference to parameters of food safety. Beyond the date indicated, the food can, in other words, become harmful. This is the case of cured meats, fresh dairy products or meat.

When the formula reads “Best before” the speech is, however, different. Here the date only indicates how long a food item keeps unaffected flavor and nutritional characteristics, but it has nothing to do with the salute. Cookies, pasta, baked goods in general, yogurt and even eggs fall into this category.

Against food waste

The proposed modification of the deadlines shown on food labels aims to make the fight against waste more effective. According to FAO reports one third of the food produced in the world today is thrown in the trash. In Italy the situation is not rosy. One I waste it for the head of 75 g of food per day, which translates into more than 27 kg per year, implies expenses equal to 9.2 billion of euros per year.

The situation is also highly unsustainable from the point of view environmental. The food that is thrown into the world, quantifiable in 88 million tons per year, generates, in fact, 8% of emissions of greenhouse gases produced globally. The EU proposal aims to interrupt the direct fridge-dumpster line and therefore to fight both the food crisishow much the climate change.

The new proposal to change the deadlines shown on food labels remains a first step. The wordings are intended, for now, to stay the ones we know. Making coherent decisions therefore remains a matter of course duty of consumers. They also have the task of remembering that each indication refers to products stored correctly.

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