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Danish organisation aims to reduce food waste with new 'best before' system

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Danish organisation aims to reduce food waste with new 'best before' system
File photo: Thomas Lekfeldt/Ritzau Scanpix
14:21 CET+01:00
New labelling on food packaging could help consumers in Denmark to cut down on food waste.

The new marking on a variety of products will change the way ‘best before’ information is given, accommodating products that can often be consumed after their store ‘sell-by’ dates.

The words ‘often good after’ (‘ofte god efter’) will be used on products including milk, beer and chocolate, according to Too Good To Go, an app that has developed the scheme in partnership with a number of food producers.

Companies including Carlsberg, Unilever, Løgismose Meyers, Arla, Coop, Thise, Toms and Urtekram are among those who have agreed to try the new labelling.

Selina Juul, founder of NGO Stop Wasting Food, said that current labelling on foods can confuse consumers.

“Many in Denmark think that ‘best before’ means ‘worst after’ and throw food out to be on the safe side. This scheme contributes to better knowledge about food products and thereby reduces food waste,” Juul said in a press statement released by Too Good To Go.

Another phrase, ‘use by’ ('sidste anvendelsesdato’), is used on products where consumption after that date would constitute a health risk, while ‘best before’ (‘bedst før’) is advisory and used with products which do not constitute a health risk after their sell-by dates, but must be assessed before use.

Danish dairy giant Arla has begun to use the new labelling on its Arla 24-mælk product, and plans to extend it to other products.

“It is very clear that, for large families, this might not mean so much, because many litres of milk are drunk every day,” Arla Denmark CEO Jakob Knudsen said.

“But for small households, this is important information to have, because milk might be left in the refrigerator for several days. And it has a longer lifetime than the ‘best before’ which is written on it,” Knudsen said.

The Danish Agriculture & Food Council also said it supported the project.

“This addition is likely to help many of the consumers who are not aware that ‘best before’ is not the same as ‘use by’. And therefore throw out food which has reached its ‘best before’ date,” area director Klaus Jørgensen said in a written statement.

“But our support is conditional upon this being done in close coordination with businesses and on a voluntary basis,” Jørgensen added.

READ ALSO: Government thinktank to tackle food waste in Denmark

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