A new review group to tackle retailers' concerns over sell by and use by dates on food and drink products has been set up by the Local Better Regulation Office (LBRO).

Local authorities have been inconsistent in their approaches to enforcement, with steep fines handed down to retailers in some areas, and warnings in others, the LBRO said.

The review group plans to question why the display of food beyond its use by date is seen as a criminal offence in the UK, but not in other EU states, unless the food has become harmful.

The review group will seek views from the Food Standards Agency and the Department of Health among others. It is independently chaired and will include a number of leading UK and European food lawyers and food safety experts.

LBRO chairman Clive Grace said: "Businesses feel that while enforcement is high on local authority agendas, its execution is inconsistent some authorities seem to always prosecute for infringements, while others seem to take a different view."

The LBRO's findings are set to be published in May.