Britain Bids Adieu to ‘Best Before’

Environment Minister Hilary Benn hinted at it when we spoke in 2009. One minister and two years later, it looks set to happen: The British government has advised food retailers to scrap some date labels because they cause confusion, and ultimately, waste.

After consulting with food makers and sellers, the government has recommended that retailers phase out “best before” dates, which mostly focus on taste. This Guardian editorial supports that view.

The ┬áchanges, due to happen in the next month, will also include “sell-by” or “display-until” dates. Those labels are meant to help retailers know long to keep items on the shelf, but consumers often think they’re aimed at them. [Aside: It was fascinating to learn in the above editorial that UK retailer Marks and Spencer introduced sell-by dates in 1970.]

It will be interesting to see how the implementation happens, and whether there’s any backlash. There’s already an interesting discussion on the topic in New Zealand, where the major paper picked up on the idea. What do you make of this idea?

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