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University of Guelph

‘Best before dates won't eliminate food waste’

One University of Guelph food researcher is adamant that removing best before dates is not the solution to food waste. Keith Warriner is a professor at the University who studies food-borne illness prevention.

“Best before dates were a regulation implemented two decades ago,” said Warriner. “What the rule states is that anything with a shelf life under the 90 days, basically has to have a best before date.”

Best before dates provides customers a gauge of the quality of the produce. It isn’t an expiry date, where it would not be ideal to consume after the printed date like a bottle of vitamins.

“There are very few items that actually are dangerous to eat after the best before date,” he said. “The problem we’ve got though is a lot of these best before dates are not based on science.”

Fruit and vegetables account for 40 per cent of food waste and are either thrown away by the retailer or consumer. To reduce waste Warriner suggests buying smaller amounts of items and stop buying in bulk to avoid items going bad. Washing produce also reduces shelf life, he said.

As a compromise Warriner said there could be a code on products. “Where if people really wanted to know the best before date they could actually just scan it," said Warriner. “I would imagine the vast majority of people won’t even bother,” said Warriner


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