‘Best before’ dates on food and drink products came one step closer to being binned last week. 

Environment secretary Caroline Spelman said best before dates confused shoppers and were contributing to the UK’s 8.3m tonne food waste mountain – 60% of which is avoidable. 

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is working to resolve the issue with the Local Better Regulation Office, which earlier this year launched a study into retailers’ concerns over best before dates. 

“By law, prepacked food must currently show a best before date, even though many foods are still safe to eat after that date. This is very different from the ‘use by’ date that shows when food is no longer safe and should be thrown away,” a DEFRA spokesman commented. He added: “We’re working with industry on guidance to clear up the confusion around date labels.” 

Ministers are expected to propose that food and drink products carry just one use by date label, with higher risk products such as fi sh, meat and eggs likely to carry more detailed labels warning of the dangers of consuming these products much beyond this date.