Recent data shows that only 12% of people think it is “perfectly fine” to consume food past its “use by” date, highlighting a prevailing cautious approach to food consumption. This cautious approach, deeply rooted in food safety concerns, may also inadvertently contribute to increased food waste. Often misunderstood, the ‘use by’ label is primarily concerned with food safety rather than quality. This common misconception can lead to discarding food that is still safe to eat.
Public education campaigns are essential to clarify the meaning of “use by” dates and help consumers differentiate between safety warnings and quality indicators. There is a potential knowledge gap that needs to be filled to increase consumer confidence and understanding. Educational campaigns, clear guidelines and consistent messages from food authorities and retailers can play a crucial role. Such initiatives could empower people to make informed choices about their food, potentially reducing waste without compromising health.
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