Netherlands And Sweden Call For EU Debate On Food Labelling

19-05-14(2)picThe governments of the Netherlands and Sweden have called for a review of “best before” and “use by” dates on food packaging over concerns that they cause confusion and contribute to food wastage. 

The call came in the form of a letter from the Council of the European Union issued to the EU delegation, which urged a debate on how private sector efforts can reduce food waste and losses.

The letter was supported by the Austrian, Danish, German and Luxembourg delegations and asks the Commission to consider an extended list of products that have a long shelf-life and so may not require a ‘best before’ date on the label.

It also asks for an examination of how to inform consumers about the role of durability dates and the role other legislation may play in food wastage.

An estimated 89m tonnes of edible food is discarded in the European Union each year and the letter suggests creating an “enabling environment” and the removing barriers while preserving food safety.

“In many European countries date labelling is causing unnecessary food waste. Without overturning the system as such, the Netherlands and Sweden think that some changes and actions can be taken to reduce the amount of food waste caused by the labelling system”

“There may be various legislative areas where measures can be taken, but let us first focus on the ‘Best Before’ date”, the letter says.

“In many European countries date labelling is causing unnecessary food waste. Without overturning the system as such, the Netherlands and Sweden think that some changes and actions can be taken to reduce the amount of food waste caused by the labelling system.”

Many products with a ‘best before’ date on the label, which is required by European legislation, are edible after that date, but are still thrown away out of safety concerns, according to the letter.

“Confusion among consumers about ‘best before’ dates must be removed,” says the letter.

EU ministers are set to discuss the legislation at an agriculture council today (19 May).

The European Commission has set up a working group to discuss food waste at EU level and is set to release legislative proposals in mid-June.

 

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