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Food waste: look, smell, taste. Food beats the expiration date

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Food waste: look, smell, taste.  Food beats the expiration date

Rome, 8 August 2022 – Green light to the consumption of food without the worry of “deadlines”. That’s what’s going on in Great Britain to fight the food waste for which in the EU (2018 data) 88 million tons of products ended up in the garbage, 10% thrown away because the date of consumption on the label had been exceeded. In the United Kingdom, after large distribution chains such as Telco, Mark & ​​Spencer and Morrisons, in recent days also Waitrose, a group with over 7 billion pounds in revenues, announced that from September it will eliminate the wording “to be consumed preferably by” in 500 fresh products, including citrus fruits, salads and vegetables, to reduce food waste.

In fact, deleting the wording violates European regulations – but Great Britain has withdrawn from the EU – which oblige us to indicate the so-called “expiry date” on most prepackaged foods. An obligation, remember Ermanno Coppola , quality manager of Coldiretti, which provides only a few exceptions such as salt, sugar or fruit and vegetables, but excluding the fourth range, such as ready-made salads. The labels foresee two entries . A more stringent one, used for products such as milk and dairy products, yogurt and fresh cheeses, meat and fish, which includes a limit (” to be consumed by “) which represents a real expiration date beyond which the product can neither be consumed nor sold, because it could constitute a health hazard.

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The second reported on tomato preserves, fruit jams, honey, oil, pasta, rice, biscuits, canned products, concerns the minimum storage term (Tmc). With the inscription ” to be consumed preferably by “it indicates a date until which the food product retains its organoleptic, gustatory or nutritional characteristics. After that it can be considered safe for health, it can be consumed within a reasonable time but it could lose some characteristics.

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The lack of knowledge of the information on the packaging, according to Altroconsumo, is one of the factors that lead normally edible food to end up in the garbage. So much so that, according to an investigation by the association, only 37% of Italians understand the difference between expiration date and minimum storage term. To avoid food waste, in addition to the commitment of companies such as Banco Alimentare and Last Minute Market, the App Too Good to go has also arrived in Italy, which launched the Aware Label initiative. And therefore the words ” Often Good Beyond “that appears on products with Tmc to encourage consumers to use their senses before throwing a product. Thanks to the collaboration with partners who have introduced the conscious label on some references (Bel Group, Fruttagel, Granarolo, Gruppo VéGé, La Marca del Consumatore, NaturaSì, Nestlé, Raineri, Raspini Salumi, Salumi Pasini, Wami) more than 10 million products have been put on the market that leave the consumer free to consume them even after the indicated date. 73% of people interviewed replied that they felt inspired by the conscious label to look, smell, taste the product before throwing it away, the goal is to reach 50 million packages this year also thanks to new partners.

Moreover, if labeling remains an obligation that will continue to be respected by large-scale retail chains in Italy, for Giorgio Santambrogio , vice president of Federdistribuzione and CEO of the VèGè group, since many foods are still consumable if stored correctly beyond the Tmc, it would be important to encourage information campaigns, leaving the choice to the consumer. Coldiretti is more rigid, rejecting the English choices because “with the excuse of reducing waste, there is the risk of actually cutting quality”. The usual attempt by the countries of Northern Europe “to level the food on European tables to a lower standard than ours” while, Coppola comments, “it is not certain that without dates food waste will be reduced because consumers would be more uncertain and confused”.

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