The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has developed a new tool to help food business operators decide when to apply the ‘use by’ or ‘best before’ date to their products. The ‘use by’ date on food is about safety, as food should not be eaten after this date, even if they look and smell fine, while ‘best before’ refers to quality, as food will be safe to eat after this date but may not be at its best, for example, in terms of flavour and texture. The European Commission estimates that up to 10% of the 88 million tonnes of food waste generated annually in the EU is linked to date marking on food products.
The tool is structured as a decision tree with a series of questions answered by food business operators to help them decide whether a ‘use by’ or ‘best before’ date is required. Questions range from whether date marking requirements for a food category are already regulated by legislation, whether a product undergoes any treatment to eliminate hazards, whether it is handled again before packaging, its characteristics and storage conditions.
Source: EFSA, 2 December 2020