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"It's madness we are throwing away 35% of our supermarket shop" What is the difference between "Best Before & "Use By" Dates?

The UK throws away 720 million eggs a year over best before fears. In Ireland about 30% of us thr...

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14.11 9 Apr 2019


"It's madness we are throwing away 35% of our supermarket shop" What is the difference between "Best Before & "Use By" Dates?


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14.11 9 Apr 2019


The UK throws away 720 million eggs a year over best before fears. In Ireland about 30% of us throw away eggs, but what is the difference between 'best before' and 'use by' dates? Henry McKean met Safe Food Ireland and asked people what is the most out of date item of food they have ever eaten?

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “Stop Food Waste” programme revealed Irish consumers throw away 1 million tonnes of food a year, approximately 30% of food that is bought. This costs the average consumer €1,000 a year.

Research by WRAP, a UK government-funded recycling & waste organisations revealed 64% of total food wasted was avoidable through better food planning and shopping by consumers, and increased understanding of best before and use by dates.

Safe Food asked people specifically about this issue (Best before/use by dates) and here’s what they said:

  • Approx 1 in 3 people (32%) believed ‘best before’ and ‘use by’ dates on food labels meant the same thing.
  • Approx 44% of people knew there was a difference between the two terms but were unsure which is which.

When asked about foods they wasted..

Q: Thinking of all of the different food products you might have in your house that are not used and are thrown out, which products from this list cause waste in your household?

Foods most wasted:

  • Bread (53%)
  • Fruit (28%)
  • Vegetables (24%)
  • Dairy products (22%)
  • Cooked packaged meat (13%)
  • Eggs (10%)
  • Sausages (10%)

When asked about what they did to check whether foods were fresh or not…

  • 61% said they smell it
  • 59% said they would check the use by date
  • 39% said they would check the best before date
  • 32% said they would check for signs of decay (e.g. mould)
  • 19% would squeeze it!

Read more about

Eggs Henry McKean Newstalk Safe Food Throw Away

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