Leading supermarket group Sainsbury has today unveiled new advice on the packaging of many of its food products which it hopes will reduce the level of unnecessary waste created in the UK.
The grocers is to stop advising customers to freeze food on the day of purchase as research shows this is not essential and that huge volumes of perishable goods are needlessly thrown out each year due to misplaced concerns over safety.
Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP), a government funded body, has backed Sainsbury’s campaign and has produced research which shows 60 per cent of shoppers believe food has to be frozen on the day of purchase or thrown away.
Sainsbury’s new packaging advice will read: “Freeze as soon as possible after purchase and always within the use by date. Once Frozen consume within 1 month. If defrosted use the same day.”
Beth Hart, Sainsbury’s Head of Product Technology for Fresh & Frozen, commented: “The ‘freeze on day of purchase’ advice needs to be changed as there is no food safety reason why it can not be frozen at any point prior to the use by date.
“As a large UK retailer, we have a responsibility to minimise food waste where possible and this new labelling will certainly help us to do that. A one customer pointed out to me while discussing the previous labelling, ‘how does the product know which day I purchased it on?”
WRAP says UK households waste around 7.2 million tonnes of food and drink every year, most of which could have been eaten, costing families up to £50 every month.
In 2008 industry body the British Retail Consortium set several environmental targets for retailers and an update on progress published at the end of last month showed that retailers had more than exceeded its target for cutting waste.
Andrew Parry, Consumer Food Waste Prevention Manager for WRAP, said: “Changing the guidance to freeze before the use by date is a welcome move. Now we can all look in our fridges and know that we can freeze most items which are about to go out of date and enjoy them at a later time.
“In doing so we can expect to reduce the amount of out of date food we throw away, which will in turn save us all money.”