Long-standing ‘freeze on the day of purchase’ food guidelines are being changed by Sainsbury’s as they relax their rules in a bid to reduce food wastage.
The leading supermarket is doing its bit to help slash alarming food wastage numbers after they discovered that 800,000 tonnes of perfectly good food could be saved if a new food labelling system was brought into place.
The new initiative, in conjunction with the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP), will involve changing food labels advising consumers to freeze food at any point prior to the use-by date, rather than immediately after purchase.
The move comes after research by WRAP revealed that 60% of people believe the current reinforced labeling ‘rule’ that food has to be frozen on the day they buy it.
However, only 21% had frozen food that was nearing its use-by date and many admitting that they throw food away when it approaches the use-by date because they weren’t aware whether it was safe to freeze it.
"The 'freeze on day of purchase' advice needs to be changed as there is no food safety reason why it cannot be frozen at any point prior to the use by date," Beth Hart, Sainsbury’s head of product, said in a statement.
"As a large UK retailer, we have a responsibility to minimise food waste where possible and this new labelling will certainly help us do that.
"As one customer pointed out to me while discussing the previous labelling, 'how does the product know which day I purchased it on?'"
Food experts are hoping that this initiative could save up to £2bn worth of good food every year.
According to figures compiled by WRAP, UK households dispose of around 4.9 million tonnes of packaging and 7.2 million tonnes of food and drink waste every year.
The charity claims that if people stopped wasting all this food and drink, it would save the equivalent of at least 17 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. This is the equivalent of taking one in five cars off the road.
Andrew Parry from WRAP said in a statement: "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 Now we can all look in our fridges and know that we can freeze most items, which are about to go out of date and enjoy them at a later time.
"In doing so we can expect to reduce the amount of out of date food we throw away, which will in turn save us all money.”
The new move from Sainsbury's has the backing of other food wastage awareness charities, such as FareShare.
A spokesperson from FareShare, told The Huffington Post: "FareShare works with the food industry to redirect good food that would otherwise go to waste to people who need it.
"We also support any initiative that can help reduce the amount of food being wasted every day by households and the food industry.
"If households and the food industry can work together to ensure that good food isn’t going to waste, then surely that is a good thing."