The Waste and Resource Action Programme (WRAP) has published new labelling guidance, to give consumers more consistent storage and date label advice.

The guidance has been prepared by WRAP, DEFRA Labelling team and Food Standards Agency (FSA) in conjunction with Food Standards Scotland, FSA in Wales and FSA Northern Ireland with input from various food sector trade bodies.

It will be used by food manufacturers, retailers and brands as the industry standard and brings together recommendations that ensure food is safe and adheres to legal requirements, with best practice information to ensure it is stored and used within time.

The document provides guidance on how to apply and use food date labels and how UK law applies throughout the “life cycle” of a food product. The guidance explains how adopting some practices, while maintaining food safety, can reduce food waste. These practices include:

  • Only applying “Use By” where there is a food safety reason to use it
  • Maximising product “open” and “closed” life
  • Only applying “use within x days” open life where there is a specific safety reason not already covered by a “Use By” date.
  • Providing clear advice on where to store the product to maximise product life
  • For products that require or benefit from chilled storage apply consistent advice
  • Using the “snowflake” logo to indicate where products are suitable for freezing
  • Only having one date label on a single product

The move is to help tackle the two million tonnes of food wasted each year in UK homes purely from it not being used in time. A third of this food waste is triggered because of how shoppers interpret existing date labels.