Sell by, Use by, Bye bye?

As I’m sure you have all picked up by now, I’m passionate about the environment, I spend a great deal of my spare time working to better my local area, adding wildflower areas, talking to my local shopping park about more plants etc.

Something else I feel passionate about is just how much food goes to waste in this country every day.

I often talk to the people at work about various things eco’ and one thing that has come up on occasion is food waste. Something that came up was the confusion around food date labelling.

We have use by dates for things like meat and dairy, and in theory you shouldn’t use anything past this date. I find that the old methods of seeing and smelling your food are good ways to work out how edible the contents of your fridge may (or may not) be.

If you want to know more about which foods to be careful of and why you might not need to throw it away if it’s only a couple of days after the date read this article. 

You can read even more information from the Food Standards Agency.

Contrastingly, the best before date has no real meaning, it’s just telling you when your bag of salad passes it’s very best, so it’s about quality rather than safety. So, for example after your salad passes its best before date, a few leaves might have wilted in the bag of salad, a bowl of cold water will often revive these.


Then supermarkets sometimes display sell by dates to add extra confusion which are just for the stores use.

We need the FSA to re look at food labelling and amend the regulations on best before & use by dates.

The Real Junk Food Project have been feeding those attending the annual Friends of the Earth gathering for several years. This year we had 500 people attending.

They have saved hundreds of tonnes of edible food and redistributed it amongst local communities, in cafes, schools & community centres daily.

They currently have pay as you feel cafes in Leeds, Shipley, Sheffield, Doncaster, Nunthorpe, Hebden Bridge, York, Ashton- Under-Lyne, Chester, Bolton, Northampton, Leicester, Stamford, Loughborough, Birmingham, Brighton, Gosport, Aylesbury, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Bangor. They also have pop up venues in various locations.

They have proved with facts and figures that this food is perfectly fine to consume. While communities up and down the country are struggling financially and almost 1 in 3 children are living in food poverty in many parts of the UK, it’s a shame we still have perfectly edible food going into landfill due to these old regulations.

They are asking for a common-sense approach for food labelling so that the supermarkets are able better control their surplus food waste and the food industry can better control its output. It’s unfair to have people going hungry in 2017 in the UK, while tonnes of perfectly good food is going to waste because of laws and regulations that are not in line with the reality on the ground.

At the Friends of the Earth gathering Basecamp this month Adam (the Cofounder and ex chef) mentioned that because of a recent visit from trading standards the Leeds branch may face prosecution after an inspection found produce that was past its use-by date at one of its warehouses.

Adam has been told he could face two months in prison and a £5,000 fine if he is found guilty. Among the items found by trading standards were more than 100 sachets of French dressing, made from oil and vinegar, which were past their use-by date. He mentioned that even though it hadn’t been used and may not have ever been used he could still face prosecution. It was also mentioned that often use by was used incorrectly.

As a result a petition had been started calling for the government to re look at how these food labelling dates are used, please support this.

See also Love Food Hate Waste.

Thanks for reading and any support…. Helen