Should we abolish the 'best before' date OR allow out of date items to be sold?

Bugz

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Question's in the title really.

The amount of waste shops are building up is quite simply wrong. It's not a case of them being clumsy or lazy but a case of if something reaches its sell-by date, it cannot legally be sold and I am told that the authorities / senior managers take such acts very seriously.

That said - is a sell by date really needed? Just to inform those who don't know, a lot of fresh products have a sell by date and a best before. Sell by date is the legal date we can sell it to; best before is when your advised not to consume it any longer.

Eggs have a best before date 7 days AFTER the sell by date. Shops have to waste off eggs knowing full well they can last ANOTHER 7 days if not more.

For bread this difference is 2 days; for most vegetables it is 2-3 days.

Just to put some figures into this discussion lastly. I'm in charge of waste recording for fresh at my store. It's a fairly small store where fresh encompasses about 2 isles: dairy-prodicts, produce (veg/fruit), meat & bakery. From the past two days I wasted off 90 quids worth of food. Now this is slightly higher than usual - due to noobs in the store not rotating or reducing sharp enough but I mean come on - 90 quid is a family's shopping for a week/fortnight.

Anywho - enough blabbering. Is it really time to either get rid of the best before & sell by dates altogether (and maybe just introduce an 'advised eat by date' or allow shops to sell items outside of the sellby date / best before date aslong as they show FULLY the fact the product is out of date.
 

Ch3tan

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They should be allowed to volunteer such food to the homeless etc, obviously the products that have a fairly long life after their sell by date only. I know this is not a reality as someone will end up suing someone for food poisoning which is a shame.

The real health issue I have noticed recently is lots and lots of unrefrigerated meat vans selling meat to people in houses and flats and occasionally to shops.
 

ford prefect

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As someone born with congenital anosmia, I would be screwed if this went through. I get food poisoning at least once evey 18 months WITH best before dates, I would be stuffed without them.
 

Moriath

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use by not best before ... best before just leads to perfectly good food being chucked ..

Just a use by date that afterwards it is likely to make you sick or be off will be enough

Not oh i might not taste quite as good date that best before is
 

Kryten

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I just tend to check food thoroughly anyway. Seen plenty of "in date" bread that looks like it's been infested by a million green fluffy monsters, and then again bread that's gone a week over its best before and been perfectly toastable.


Wouldn't like to see it on sealed foods n stuff you can't otherwise check easily - that comes from pouring from a carton of pure orange juice a while ago, raising the glass to my mouth to find a more fluffy texture than I was expecting.
Never again.
 

leviathane

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meat can be fine well passed the use/bb date if frozen on the day you get it.
 

Dudley52

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- that comes from pouring from a carton of pure orange juice a while ago, raising the glass to my mouth to find a more fluffy texture than I was expecting.
Never again.
sounds nasty. Which brand of orange juice was that?
 

taB

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I treat best before as a suggestion. Poke it and smell it. If it seems ok eat it. In my opinion eating stuff that is borderline improves your immune system and makes it easier to eat random street food in hot countries without squitting liquid poo :)
 

tris-

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Use by must stay, otherwise we run the risk of poisoning people.

Best before is also perfectly reasonable to me. Legally under the Food Labelling Regulations, you can sell (disregard eggs here, though) items past their best before IF the item is not unsafe for human consumption. As retailers, we chuck food after their best before because we dont want to accidently sell food that is harmful for humans to consume, as we run the risk of an offence under the Food Safety Act.


Sell by dates (except eggs again) are usually made up by the store. At mine, we use 'customer dates'. So many days before the good reach their BB/UB, we shot a 30% discount sticker on to shift it but the goods stay on the shelf untill their time is up. Sell by date is not actually defined anywhere in the Food Labelling Regulations and so it is not legally controlled by trading standards or environmental health. Eggs being the exception again, having a sell by date on the sticker. That just makes it easier, but not all egg boxes do and you have to work it out your self.


Ive only been at my store for 2 weeks, but the biggest wastes are 'live' products (fruit, veg, and strangely lavender plants). However today, someone totally fucked up the stock order (its all human controlled, so someone is always to blame) and we got 30 palletes worth of stuff that has to be put out but wont fit anywhere. I have never seen so much chicken. There was 3 full palletes, about 8 ft tall, of fruit and veg which is way too much for mid week!

Ylou can read more about durability indications in Regulations 20,21,22 http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si1996/Uksi_19961499_en_3.htm#mdiv20
You can find your offence for selling food unfit for human consumption in Section 8 http://www.opsi.gov.uk/Acts/acts1990/ukpga_19900016_en_3#pt2-pb1-l1g7

Gonna stop editing this bitch before it turns in to an essay.
 

Tom

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Its shite like this that made me put my name down for the local allotments. I should have one by 2054.
 

leviathane

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what is it, ppl in london can expect to wait 40 years or so til they can get an allotment :)
 

tris-

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Tried to add some more relevant info to bugz but the fucvking edit timer fucked me off.
Also worth noting that if youre fully trained up on all store procedure, then you can be held completley responsible if unfit food is sold and you were tasked with ensuring it wasnt on sale. Action would be taken against the company at first, but you are classed as a seperate person and could be lumbered with the fines etc So always make sure you do your job propley :)
 

leviathane

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aye, i remember having to do the stock rotation and restocking the shelfs. Then once your done you had to sign off on it, then someone else would second check it. Well that's the procedure at M&S.
 

tris-

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Thats M&S covering the companies arse, so if it goes tits up they can blame another person (you) :)
 

davehart

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Well, the use by and best before dates are perfectly resonable to be honest. The only reason why big business have to waste so much stuff off is through poor stock control and managment. If your smart and plan what you need then you can keep waste products down to a minimum.

Things can go off even before the sell by date so the best before indicates when its reached it's ideal peek.
 

Aoami

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do like megadave does and just steal the stuff that m&s throw away out of the bins. everyone's a winner.
 

rynnor

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I would get rid of the silly dates on tins that last practically forever - the rest is less clearcut.

A lot of supermarket fresh produce is already ancient but been frozen - by the time it hits the shelf some barely looks edible at the sell by date let alone the use by.

Surely the key to cutting supermarket waste is better stock control and tbh no supermarket is going to set out to waste food so I dont see that this needs fixing?

Messing around with the dates on fresh meat is going to lead to a big increase in food poisoning - its just not worthwhile.

All this nonsense came out of the stupid report this week that was based on the fiction of global warming so can be ignored tbh.
 

tris-

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If the fresh produce was previously frozen then they would of been caught out by now. If something has been frozen previously then the label must indicate it (The Food Labelling Regulations 1996 Reg 11). I know for sure that analysis of foods can find out if 'fresh' food has been frozen. Infact traders are done for it usually with meat.

Not sure its a good idea to get rid of dates on anything, even tins that last for 3 years from when you buy it. If you leave it in the cupboard for a couple of years, you wont remember when it was supposed to expire :)
 

Jupitus

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Its shite like this that made me put my name down for the local allotments. I should have one by 2054.
You'll rock up there with ya shovel and see a sign up saying 'Best before Jan 2043' :D
 

Bugz

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Even if the best before remains, the sell by date should go.

Waste would be cut dramatically in most stores as it gives fresh 1-2 extra days to shift stuff.

Whoever said its down to 'bad stock rotation' etc. Not always true. Some things just don't sell at said prices until we reduce them down. It's then a case of waiting for the right people to come in to purchase the goods at the right reduction value.

The quality of fresh itself is debatable. I do quality checks daily on meat and produce and generally only in absurdly hot weather is there problems. One or two apples may come off a full load of them. Although the other week every single banana, packed and unpacked was completely fucked after one day due to the conditions =/
 

tris-

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Bugz, the sell by date is NOT a legal requirement on anything, check the regulations.

If you think it should go, tell your shop manager. Spin him some garbage about how much money it will save him and point out that there is no legal requirement to have a sell by date displayed on anything.
 

Moriath

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stock rotation doesnt work ... well not for me i always dig down the back to see if there are better dated stuff on the shelf specially for salad stuff ...

People arnt morons any more about supermarket tricks to get you to buy stuff that dont last so long ..

well i guess some are as you still do it hehe
 

old.Tohtori

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In Finland, there's a "created" date and "best by" date.

Shops aren't allowed to sell after "best by", and if it's on a last day, it usually is sold at a lower price.

Now, the thing people don't know is that the best by is simply a suggestion(excluding something like raw unpacked meat) and the toss it away at home too.

It's all due to protecting people and especially companies so that people don't sue them after eating stuff that shouldn't be eaten.

If you've got any sense in your head, you know what to eat and what not.

Moldy bred = might not be a good idea even if the best by date is still due :D

Anyway, more on topic of original question;

Yes you should.

Drop the sell by date and just use the best by date.
 

Ch3tan

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There was a good discussion about this on LBC the other day, not just about supermarket wastage, but people buying more than they need and it wasting at home. Supermarkets were blamed for the over buying by giving us too many offers and making us buy things we do not actually need.
They buy too much and it wastes if it does not sell, or we buy too much and it wastes because we do not need it.
 

old.Tohtori

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Aye Ch3tan, and most home waste comes from people being over-sensitive about dates.

For example, last week, ate a white bread that was a month over "best by".

It was fine.

No mold, nothing wrong, but most people would toss it like it was wlaking around the apartment.

(Mind you, it was in a humid and warm place all that time, so it's not even perfectly stored)

Some things, like meat, eggs etc, those are a bit difficult to pinpoint as it's more about taste then look, but even then people should trust their instincts and not the tags set by over-sensitive sue-avoiders :p

In ye old days, they even simply scooped the mold off the top of the jam as the rest of the jam was fine :D
 

Ch3tan

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I still do, if bread is slightly mouldy, i.e a couple of spots, cut the mould off and toast it. Cheese, just cut the mould off. Sod all wrong with it, I have been sick from food only a couple of times in my life and never seriously. Think most people are hugely hoodwinked by what can and cannot make you ill.
 

Bugz

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Bugz, the sell by date is NOT a legal requirement on anything, check the regulations.
Interesting...

I never realised that. Going to inform my manager tomorrow me thinks!
 

tris-

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EXCEPT EGGS!
They dont need a sell by date on them but most sold by 7 days prior the best before.

You can see for your self in the links i posted regarding the Regulations up there.
On a related topic, we gave a way a load of stuff today for free thats going out of date tomorrow. Wouldnt of minded some of it my self as it was mostly meat and fruit.
 

Bugz

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Do Aldi/Lidl do reductions?

It's the only mainstream shop I haven't seen them used in?
 

tris-

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Lidl do 30% reductions and Tesco do something too.
 

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