New campaign urges consumers to check the dates and cut food waste

19 Nov, 2012. New research by safefood for their 'Cut Food Waste' campaign has revealed that 32% of consumers believe ‘best before’ and ‘use by’ dates on food labels means the same thing. The research also revealed that 44% of consumers know there’s a difference between the two but are unsure which is which1.
To coincide with European Week for Waste Reduction which runs from 17th-25th November, safefood together with the Department of the Environment (DOE) and Environment Protection Agency (EPA) have joined together to encourage consumers to check the dates and help cut food waste.
Dr. Gary Kearney, Director, Food Science, safefood said:

We know that 30% of the food² we buy is thrown away and the aim of this campaign is to help consumers become more aware of ‘use by’ and ‘best before’ dates on foods and the difference between them. And with most people underestimating just how much of their weekly grocery bill is wasted on food that is in the end, thrown out, consumers can save money by focusing on these dates. Our advice is to treat Best Before dates as a guideline and Use By dates as a deadline.”

Environment Minister Alex Attwood added: “The average household in Northern Ireland could save £680 a year, not to mention the potential significant reduction in landfill contributions, by being more savvy about the food we buy and consume.  I am delighted that my department can support the 'Cut Food Waste' campaign, which aims to show all of us how much we waste, and how best to interpret the information on food labels.”
Research for the campaign also found those foods most wasted were:

  • Bread (43%)
  • Fruit (15%)
  • Dairy products (12%)
  • Vegetables (10%)
  • Cooked packaged meat (4%).

Odile Le Bolloch, spokesperson for Stop Food Waste at the EPA, welcomed the week commenting “Understanding the difference between ‘best before’ and ‘use by’ dates will empower consumers to stop wasting food and save them money. European Week for Waste Reduction gives us a chance to highlight to everyone that the way we consume and waste food has a key role in building a sustainable society that is resource efficient.”
safefood’s 'Cut Food Waste' campaign includes outdoor, radio and online advertising reminding consumers not to get caught out by out of date food and treat Best Before dates as a guideline and Use By dates as a deadline.
The campaign coincides with the 4th European Week for Waste Reduction and 32 European countries are taking part. European Week for Waste Reduction is about raising awareness on waste reduction strategies in Europe and to encourage behaviour changes to promote more sustainable consumption and production: such changes yielding both environmental and economic benefits.
For more ideas on what you can do to reduce waste, save money & benefit the environment, visit the the EPA’s BeGreen website or Love Food, Hate Waste website.

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For more information or to request an interview please contact

Dermot Moriarty/Julie Carroll, safefood
+353 1 448 0600 / 087 9891682 (Dermot) or
Editor’s Notes:

  1. Millward Brown Lansdowne; safefood November 2012. Omnibus survey of 2,000 adults on the island of Ireland.
  2. Environment Protection Agency

European Week for Waste Reduction (EWWR) organised by the EPA National Waste Prevention Programme is about encouraging behaviour changes to promote more sustainable consumption and production. A full list of events taking place around the country can be found on the EPA website, many of which are open to the general public. These include business seminars and public information events in a wide variety of locations.