Food Wastage Falls
‘Best before’ dates should be binned as they only add to food waste, says EU states. Reuters

A group of EU states have argued that 'best before' dates on packaging of long-lasting food adds to the mountain of waste in Europe and that they should be binned.

Reuters gained access to a paper put forward by Sweden and the Netherlands, prepared for an agriculture ministers meeting on Monday, which claims that date-labelling in the EU is only adding to the ever-mounting waste that the continent produces.

The proposal put forward says that 'best before' dates should be scrapped from food with a long shelf life, and urges the European Commission to educate consumers so that they better understand the labels.

"The need to reduce food losses and food waste is also closely linked to the principle that everyone in the world has a right to adequate food," says the paper, according to Reuters, which is also supported by Austria, Germany, Denmark and Luxembourg.

The subject of food waste in the West has been very much on the agenda in recent times because of the impact it has on the environment.

The Institute of Mechanical Engineers found that around 50% of the 4 billion tonnes that it estimates is produced worldwide is wasted due to the technology being used, storage, transport and a misunderstanding of 'best before' and 'use by' dates.

According to, "You will see 'use by' dates on food that goes off quickly, such as meat products and ready-prepared salads," which are also largely dependent on the correct storage instruction.

Best before dates "appear on a wide range of frozen, dried, tinned and other foods. The 'best before' dates are more about quality than safety. When the date runs out it doesn't mean that the food will be harmful, but it might begin to lose its flavour and texture," says the website.

The European Commission aims to slash food waste in the EU by half by 2020.