The British supermarket chain Waitrose has announced the removal of best before dates on almost 500 products. Objective: fight against food waste. But in France, are consumers willing to do without these food indication dates so ingrained in their daily lives? Decoded.
“The French are very attached to consumption dates, they grew up with them, so it makes sense that they follow them without asking questions,” explains Simon Foucault, director of public affairs at the company that fights food waste, Too good. to go Expiration date, minimum durability date, recommended expiration date… Our products are covered in dates and, with them, there is confusion among consumers and an increase in food waste.
“10% of European food waste is caused by dates for consumption,” laments the specialist. To fight against these tons of food thrown away, the British supermarket chain Waitrose has decided to remove the minimum durability date from nearly 500 products. “It is a very good measure, without a doubt, but you still have to know how to differentiate between ‘consume until’ and ‘preferably consume before’”, points out the manager.
“Our generation tends to throw away the product as soon as the date passes”
The expiration date (or expiration date) is an imperative health date, beyond which the product cannot be consumed. The date of minimum durability (DDM) is an indicative date beyond which the product will lose its taste quality, but will not present any risk to health.
According to Too good to go, eight out of ten French people could tell the difference, “but unlike our grandparents who relied more on their sense of smell and taste, our generation tends to throw away the product as soon as the product is out of date. , even if there is no risk to health”, laments Simon Foucault.
The dates of consumption create an assistance in the consumer, “he no longer trusts himself and no longer trusts his senses of smell, sight, taste”, explains Lauriane Rabaud, dietician from the Toulouse region. Therefore, a pedagogy is required so that the consumer becomes an actor of their food again. “Once we have sensitized a large part of the people, we will be able to encourage the abolition of the DDM”, hopes the manager.
Meat and fish are the foods most at risk.
In order for consumers to be independent in their food choices, the dietitian reviews the most common products and their “real” expiration date. “It is the products rich in water that present the most risks because it is in the water where all the bacteria develop,” he explains. Therefore, there is no danger to your health if you consume dried products after their expiration date. As for fruits and vegetables, the dietitian advises relying on the senses of sight and taste.
Instead, meat and fish, “foods with a high risk of developing bacteria”, should be consumed as quickly as possible, “especially minced meat that should be consumed during the day”. For small homemade dishes, “which are less resistant than industrial dishes”, they can be kept for 3 to 5 days in the fridge.
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Finally, regarding dairy products, yogurts, hard cheeses, parsley can be consumed beyond two weeks from the expiration date. But it is advisable to respect the date for fresh cheeses and those made with raw milk. “The regulations on the labels are very strict to cover any health risk, so consumers really have to trust each other to avoid unnecessary waste,” concludes the dietician.
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