Majority of People Choose Common Sense Over Sell-By Dates, UK Study Shows

Most consumers do not strictly abide by sell-by and use-by dates, research shows
Majority of People Choose Common Sense Over Sell-By Dates, UK Study Shows

Photo Modified: Flickr/David Goehring/CC 2.0

Advocates against food waste have praised the practice, suggesting that consumers should be comfortable using their own judgment. 

A study conducted with 1,500 people in the United Kingdom found that an estimated 56 percent of consumers felt it was safe to eat food past its “best before” date, while 28 percent of people felt comfortable eating food past its “use by” date, which is used for highly perishable foods like milk and meat.

Savvy customers preferred to use their senses of smell, sight, and taste rather than rely on dates, the research showed.

Though some question the safety of this strategy, this self-reliance also signals a growing awareness of the prevalence of food waste, and the need to stop it.

This year, during Expo Milan, EU health and food safety commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis urged citizens to “respect people who produce food by not throwing it away, [and] not buying huge quantities and leaving them to rot in a fridge.”

Andriukaitis also called for producers to be more clear on what dates printed on food items actually mean, saying “for example when you see a date ‘best before’ on a bottle of water — that does not mean you need to throw it away next day.”

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