Labels on food products can cause a lot of confusion. It is not uncommon for edible products to end up in the trash can – the European Commission has a plan to fight food waste with new markings and labels. Material of the magazine “Polska i Świat”.
– The expiration date and its incorrect understanding is the most common reason why food ends up in the trash in Poland, but not only in Poland, because also in Europe – emphasizes ecological educator Sylwia Walendowska-Majcher. – European Union estimates that up to 10 percent of food produced in EU countries is wasted precisely because we missed the date and threw it away too quickly, he explains.
The president of the Federation of Polish Food Banks, Beata Ciepła, points out that when it comes to returns “should be eaten by” and “Best before”many consumers do not see the difference.
The first concerns safety food and after the stated date, the product is not suitable for consumption. The second is about him quality – we can eat such a product, it will not harm us, even though, for example, the appearance or consistency has changed.
And this is where the game comes in European Commission, which has a plan to fight food waste through, among other things, new markings and labels. The goal is to reduce food waste by 50 percent by 2030.
“The problem of food waste concerns us for a very long time”
– The Commission has been working for several years on how to update the labels so that there is no doubt that the product is suitable for consumption longer. For example, by a special note on the box that the product is suitable for consumption after this date. New technologies, such as biosensors and graphic indicators informing about the quality of the product, could also help – explains TVN24 correspondent in Brussels Maciej Sokołowski.
– This is a very good action, but a little late, because the problem of food waste has been affecting us for a very long time. He was huge when we had prosperity. Since when is it high all over Europe inflationis less significant, because we buy less food and thus throw less away – emphasizes Edyta Kochlewska from dlahandlu.pl.
But we still throw away too much. Every year, nearly five million tons of food end up in the landfill in Poland. – Food bank data show that it is even PLN 3,000 in an average Polish family of four – says Walendowska-Majcher.
The way to success in reducing waste should be education. This, however, takes time. According to the Food Banks Federation, reading labels is as important as good and thoughtful food storage. – We do not verify what is written. We are not sure whether we should keep it in the fridge or in a dry, airy place, says Beata Ciepła.
Which foods are “use by” and which are “best before”
To group “should be eaten by” include fresh and perishable products – dairy, meat, fish, eggs and unpasteurized goods. – This applies to perishable products that, if stored for too long, can be dangerous to health. Pathogenic bacteria can develop there – explains prof. Danuta Kołożyn-Krajewska from the Institute of Human Nutrition Sciences of the Warsaw University of Life Sciences.
Group “Best before” These include groats, pasta, flour, rice, pasteurized products in cans or cartons, vegetable and fruit purees.
– The products were safe after half a year, after three months they were practically unchanged. However, after half a year, we observed sensory changes. There were no microbiological changes that would indicate a health risk – explains Kołożyn-Krajewska.