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Adhere to 'best before' dates? You're wasting good food

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Do you religiously abide by the "best before" dates on food packaging? 

If so, you're wasting good food.

Best before" dates on food add to a mountain of waste in Europe and could be scrapped for some long-life produce, a group of European Union states have argued in a discussion paper prepared for an agriculture ministers.

Food waste in the West has become a hot topic because of its environmental and humanitarian implications. A report last year found up to half of the food produced worldwide was wasted because of poor harvesting, storage and transport methods, as well as irresponsible retailer and consumer behaviour.

According to figures from the Commission, up to 100 million tonnes of food are wasted in Europe each year, while last year’s report from the London-based Institution of Mechanical Engineers found that between 30 percent and 50 percent of the food which gets to supermarket shelves is wasted – often because of poor understanding of best before and use by dates.

Here in Singapore, we waste some 796,000 tonnes of food, according to National Environment Agency statistics released in March. That is about 1,420 fully loaded Airbus A-380s.

A use by date is applied if there is a health risk in eating food after that date, whereas a best before date is more about quality – when it expires it does not necessarily mean food is harmful, but it may lose flavour and texture.

Source:, Reuters