A recent study by Wageningen Food & Biobased Research (WFBR), part of Wageningen University and Research, found that extra information provided alongside traditional best-before and expiry dates can help reduce the amount of unsafe and expired food that is consumed.
The study showed that labels such as ‘Often good after date – Look, smell & taste’ and ‘Do not use after date’ allow consumers to make more informed decisions about whether a product is safe to eat or should be thrown away. This could have significant implications for both food safety and waste reduction.
As part of the research project, participants were given 12 products with differing fictional expiry dates (researchers privately listed eight as expired and four as non-expired).
The participants were then asked to create a snack platter including only the products that were safe to eat. However, half of the volunteers were given products with extra date-marking information to guide them, while the other half had to rely on traditional expiry labels.
The results showed that the participants with access to the extra information were more likely to dispose of food that was past its use-by date. Meanwhile, WFBR researchers said that more investigation is needed to determine whether the presence of added information could help reduce the amount of edible food that is thrown away.
Research key to reducing food waste
Sanne Stroosnijder, programme manager for food loss and waste prevention at WFBR, said that further research was essential for reducing food waste.
“Only a handful of studies truly assess the actual effects of interventions on food waste behaviours of consumers at home,” Stroosnijder said.
“It is quite challenging to design such studies, ensuring to keep consumers naïve about the actual aim of the study and measuring food waste behaviours in natural environments. These kind of insights are key to understanding how to make it easier for consumers to understand datemarking and waste less food at home.”