Consumers admit to blindly binning food due to best-before date confusion

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

A third of consumers said they binned food because the best-before date had passed. Image: Getty
A third of consumers said they binned food because the best-before date had passed. Image: Getty

Related tags Research Food waste

British consumers admit to blindly binning food due to a lapsed best before date, according to research by surplus marketplace Too Good To Go.

A quarter of Brits admitted they had thrown away food past its best-before date before checking it was edible, while a third (29%) said they had disposed of food solely due to the best-before date.

Sell-by and display until dates were also cited by respondents as a cause of confusion – 11% and 14% respectively – that ultimately led to more food being wasted.

“One of the reasons households are a main contributor to food waste is because many of us don't know the difference between 'Best Before', 'Sell By', 'Display Until' and 'Use By',” ​said Too Good To Go co-founder Jamie Crumble. “This is causing a whopping 10% of Europe's food waste – 9,000,000 tonnes across Europe each year.”

‘Weekend waste phenomenon’

The survey also observed a ‘weekend waste phenomenon’, with adults most adults throw away food on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays than any other day of the week. This was due to having a ‘mish-mash’ of leftovers they didn’t know what to do with.

On average, while Brits go to the supermarket two times a week, nearly half of us (45%) admit to throwing away items due to needing to replace items.  A further 1 in 5 (20%) work more on certain days and don't have time to use up leftovers, and 1 in 5 (19%) eat out more on some days and don't use up the leftovers at home.

Younger people are more likely to contribute to food waste, with 16–24-year-olds admitting to throwing away three items per week on average. Over 55s, however threw away only one item per week.

Old vs young

In fact, more than half of adults over 55 (55%) said they kept food past its best-before date, while only 28% of those aged 16-24 did they same. Furthermore, older generations claimed to be more knowledgeable of food storage methods, with 70% confident in that area, compared to 47% of 16–24-year-olds.

“At Too Good To Go, we are encouraging households to sense-check food instead of blindly binning it due to a lapsed date with our 'Look, Smell, Taste, Don't Waste' advice,”​ Crumble added. “It is a simple way for households to reduce food waste, save money and cut down their emissions.”

Meanwhile, chilled food manufacturer Oscar Mayer has forged a new partnership with Company Shop Group​ (CSG) in order to increase the amount of surplus stock that is redistributed.

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