New government guidelines on food labels have been released today in a bid to help shoppers save money by not throwing perfectly good food away.

The updated guidance will help ensure the right date marks are used on food labels to make it easier for shoppers to know when food is safe to eat and to help prevent confusion about when food should be binned.

Key Points

  • New government food guidelines released
  • 'Sell by' and 'display until' labels should be scrapped
  • Aim to prevent food waste

According to the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), UK households could potentially save up to £50 a month by not throwing out the combined 5.3 million tonnes of avoidable food waste a year.

The guidance, which was produced in consultation with the likes of food manufacturers, supermarkets and consumer groups, states that food packaging should only carry either a 'use-by' or 'best-before' date. 

'Sell by' dates should be scrapped

'Sell-by' and 'display-until' labels used for stock rotation should be removed to avoid confusion for shoppers, with retailers finding different ways of stock control. 

'Use-by' labels will still be used on items such as soft cheese, ready-prepared meals and smoked fish to indicate when food could be unsafe to eat after.  

Most other foods should have a 'best-before' date only, to indicate when the food is no longer at its best, but is still safe to eat, which would be used on items such as biscuits, jams, pickles, crisps and tinned foods.

Environment secretary Caroline Spelman says: "We want to end the food labelling confusion and make it clear once and for all when food is good and safe to eat.

"This simpler and safer date labelling guide will help households cut down on the £12 billion worth of good food that ends up in the bin."