Can we exceed the expiration dates? What to know before throwing away food

To fight against food waste, a new pictogram will appear on various products. A logo that will encourage us not to necessarily throw away the food right away (in some cases) even if the expiration date has passed.

On the packaging of foodstuffs, there are two types of expiration dates: “To consume until …” (for meat, fish or certain fresh products) and “To consume preferably before …” (the date here guarantees the optimum quality of the product, but it can still be consumed afterwards).

3 out of 4 Belgians do not differentiate between the two types of expiry date. These terms are often found on the other side of the packaging, which can make it difficult for the consumer. So the “To good to go” company is launching a new pictogram to encourage consumers to see, smell and taste before throwing away food that can still be eaten.

“Each person in Belgium throws away the equivalent of 39kg per year and this is often due to a misinterpretation of the expiration dates”, explique Sien Van Den Broeke, specialist and impact social.

The campaign to educate consumers about the possibility of consuming certain expired products is supported by the Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain. “It is important to store the products well. After that you can taste, observe and smell. From there, you can estimate whether the products can still be eaten after the expiration date.”, adds Hélène Bonte, spokesperson for Afsca.

The logo clearer?

It remains to be seen whether this new pictogram will have an effect on customers in supermarkets. According to a Test-Achats study, 7 out of 10 Belgians think that a logo is clearer than text.

“This is a step in the right direction in our opinion. Obviously, it will be necessary to assess the effects of this campaign on consumer behavior. We know that there are discussions at European level to review these dates, the wording, the visual, … This can be an interesting element that will participate in the reflection in this context “, says Julie Frère, spokesperson for Test-Achats.

The new pictogram will initially appear on more than 200 products from 14 different brands.

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