EU Member States Criticize “Best Before” Dates
The Netherlands and Sweden have issued a discussion paper arguing that labeling food with “best before” dates results in unnecessary food waste and that European Union (EU) requirements should be adjusted to allow some foods to be sold without them. The paper, which Germany, Denmark, Austria, and Luxembourg also back, echoes a report published in April 2014 by the U.K.’s House of Lords EU Committee urging the development of “aspirational targets for each level of the supply chain” to reduce food waste in Europe. According to the European Commission (EC), up to 100 million metric tons of food are wasted each year in Europe, and a 2013 report from the London based Institution of Mechanical Engineers found that 30 to 50 percent of food on shelves is wasted, possibly due to poor understanding of “best before” and “use by” dates. The EC said that it is examining possible avenues of action and will publish a policy paper on the issue later this year. See Reuters, May 16, 2014.