Are you fighting against waste or trying to save money? Many food stores have deals to liquidate foods that are approaching the expiration date. Is it edible? Should we be wary? What should I know about this?
First of all, know thatan expiry date does not mean that a product is unfit for consumption. But what are these famous expiry dates that appear on the packaging of perishable food products for?
According to Nicholas Courant, spokesperson for the Fevia (Federation of the Belgian Food Industry), these expiration dates may indicate that certain products are perishable and therefore “bad” for your health. Rather, other notifications represent a guarantee of quality.
He also points out that there is a major difference between “to consume preferably before…“which is the date of minimum durability (MDD) and the “best before“, which is the expiration date (DLC). And that’s wherea study conducted by Too Good To Go reveals that 75% of Belgians do not know the difference between these two mentions.
The difference between DDM and DLC
In the first case, the DDM or the mention ” to consume preferably before… ” guarantees that the food will be of irreproachable quality until the date indicated but that it can still be consumed after this date, provided that it is stored in good conditions and that its packaging is not damaged without risk to the health of the individual.
The second mention, the DLC or more precisely the mention “best before“means that the product must be consumed before a fixed date. Beyond this date, the product may pose health risks. We are talking about highly perishable fresh products such as ready-made meals, pre-cut vegetables, meat or again the fish, so the food should not be eaten after the expiry date has passed.
The list of almost non-perishable foods is long and confusion between these dates inevitably leads to food waste because 1 in 3 people, according to the Too Good to go study, throw away food because its expiration date is outdated.
Moreover, last year, Test Buy had already reported that 1/3 of the world’s food production is wasted. “This is equivalent to throwing 1.3 trillion euros down the drain every year. Not to mention the enormous impact on the environment. Indeed, producing food, transforming it, packaging it and transporting it to the consumer requires many resources and consumes energy. A simple 200g steak that we throw in the trash is about 3200 liters of water wasted. And this waste keeps increasing“, you can read on their website.
Always according to Test Achat, in total, around 345kg of food is wasted annually per person in Belgium. A lot of it is food that doesn’t even reach you.
Use of the senses
It is this observation that led Too Good To Go, in collaboration with 14 brands and with the support of Test Achats and the AFSCA, to launch a pictogram to avoid as much as possible the waste of products with a minimum durability date. This pictogram is intended to specify the date of minimum durability “to consume preferably before “ applicable to products like (dry) pasta, dry biscuits, preserves, milk, chocolate, etc. The optimum quality of the product is guaranteed until then, but it is often still good afterwards. To find out, you have to observe, smell, and taste!
“The logo created in collaboration with the AFSCA and Too Good to Go, makes it easy to identify the products that a consumer may possibly eat after the end of the expiry date indicated on the packaging.“, explains Helène Bonte, spokesperson for FAVV, the Flemish AFSCA.
FEVIA also supports the action and reminds consumers once again that it is important to check the quality of the product through our senses. The smell, the taste, the texture or even the color are signs that do not deceive and if none of the parameters mentioned alert you, do not worry it is that it is indeed a product “preferably to be consumed before“which is completely consumable. It is in this case that the mention represents the guarantee of quality.
A fight against food waste
“The fight against food waste has been at the center of Test Achats’ concerns for years. A survey we conducted in 2020 showed that nearly 70% of consumers believe that logos would be clearer than text to understand the difference between the dates “Best before…” and “Best before…”. This is the reason why we are supporting the Too Good To Go campaign which is a step in the right direction ” says Julie Frère, spokesperson for Test Achats.
Opinion shared on the Fevia side. While this action can help prevent food waste, “it’s a good idea and she applauds the steps“. However, the Federation of the Belgian Food Industry reminds consumers to pay attention to the types of expiry dates and above all, to appeal to their senses to avoid having a bad surprise.