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government issues labelling guidance to tackle growing food waste mountain

15 September 2011

The Government has issued new guidance for the food industry on the use of food label dates amid growing concerns at the amount of food that is wasted each year by UK households.

According to the Local Government Association UK consumers threw away £14bn worth of food in 2010.

The guidance places greater emphasis on use by or best before dates and discourages the use of "sell by" and "display until" labels which are primarily used for stock control purposes.

According to Nina Best, regulatory lawyer at Browne Jacobson, the guidance reflects draft EU food regulations which provide only for mandatory use-by dates and omits the requirement for a best before date to be displayed:

"UK food labelling laws could be much simpler. This guidance is long overdue and over time it will be reflected in UK law. Any measure that reduces red tape for manufacturers and retailers will be welcomed by the industry but companies will have to continue to ensure customers are provided with any relevant details to ensure that the food they consume is safe."

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