‘Sell by’ dates, a classic example of a mad food industry

Sell-by dates are to be removed from food packaging from today in a bid to cut down on the estimated £12 billion worth of food thrown away every year.

£12 billion is nearly 10% of the total grocery trade, to cover the cost of that waste, supermarket customers must be paying an extra 10%.

This is all madness, and a classic example of where the food industry has gone over the last 50 years. How many more people died of food poisoning before ‘sell by’ by labels? Probably less.

In our house we never look at these dates. I know if fruit or veg is good to eat just by looking at it, meat starts to smell if a bit old, and cheese normally improves with age.

Processed food, rarely seen, bar the food we have processed, ie cooked, is bit different, and of course needs an ‘eat by’ date. The only date I look at is milk. As it has been pasteurised it goes rancid when out of date compared to raw milk which can be made in to yoghurt or cheese when it turns.

So what’s the answer? First of all, well done, to all those charities distributing perfectly good, wasted food from supermarkets. Yes, change the label to only give one date. But most of all encourage people to buy fresh ingredients from local suppliers and ask for, eat by, instructions and how to cook.

Bring cooking and food education back in to schools and include it in many subjects, including; geography, where does our food come from. Science, the study of preservatives and rotting. Economics, food import, export and exchange rates. History, the disastrous evolution of a UK food industry that wastes so much food, when millions, around the rest of the world, are close to starvation.

When supermarkets have to charge consumers an extra 10% to cover the cost of waste it is no wonder that local food is cheaper. It will become even cheaper if more people buy it so that local producers get economies of scale.

So buy local! Use the BigBarn local food map to find your local suppliers and tell your friends.

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