Best-Before Dates: Just a Supermarket Marketing Strategy?

Nov 05, 2015 11:40 PM EST | By Pao Uychiat


Food waste is one of the biggest problems in the world now. While in some parts of the world, people experience hunger, some people and supermarkets still choose to throw away food.  According to the Guardian, the news about food waste was featured in Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's War on Waste. It seems that the debate about this issue is piling up like a trash can.

Liz Truss, an environment secretary said the she herself ignores the best before dates. Most people who understand how to keep food safe would like to trust their instinct as to whether this food is still okay for consumption of not.

In the past, the sell-by date was first introduced by M&S in the 70's. This was designed as a way to control stocks that would enable the retailers to ensure the proper turnover of products. These days more and more processed food are on the shelves and it's also becoming harder to keep track of each ingredients' life span. The sell-by date became the life saver of food control and safety for the benefit of every person.  

During the 90's, it was clear and obvious that in a house where nobody understands how long a certain food would last given the natural environment  it is in or doesn't understand what sell-by dates are were recorded to be wasting food. It was made as a date stamp on the food packets or cans to make people aware easily but in the end it just became paranoia for most consumers.  The supermarket manager's stock management tool became a food treadmill for consumers. People tend to throw away example some vegetables from last week's grocery shopping to make room for the fresh ones this week.

One trick that people can learn would be a good old fashioned domestic science which can tell which food can be used until a specific date. For example, anything salty, sugary or fermented will last long even without chemical preservatives. We know that fresh food that are stale usually stink.

To conclude this argument, the most important lesson is that we will always be on the losing end in the fight against waste so long as we allow supermarkets to rule our food shopping habits.  Wasting food because of best-before dates or unnecessary packaging is part of the marketing scheme of supermarkets. Until such time that we stop making them dictate what we buy to eat and until when we can consume it, our trash bins will always be filled. 

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