A peer who once ate a “perfectly edible” 20-year-old biscuit has argued that sell-by dates are “far too cautious”.
Independent crossbencher Lord Palmer was speaking in Parliament on Wednesday as he raised concerns about food waste.
The hereditary peer, whose family incidentally owned a biscuit company, said: “I am sure one of the main problems is that the sell-by dates on products are far too cautious.
“I remember once eating a biscuit that was 20 years old.
“It was perfectly edible.”
His family’s firm ran what was once the world’s largest biscuit factory. Huntley & Palmers biscuits were said to symbolise the reach of the British Empire in the way that Coco-Cola did for America.
In response to Palmer’s story, environment minister Lord Goldsmith of Richmond said: “I have considerable sympathy with that point.
“I do not think that I have eaten a biscuit quite that old, but I would not be afraid of doing so.
He added the government was taking steps to cut food waste, which he said would help tackle the climate crisis.
“The UK is objectively an international leader in tackling food waste.
“We are fully committed to the UN sustainable development goal target, which… is to halve global food waste at consumer and retail levels by 2030.”
Earlier in Parliament, the Tory frontbencher told peers reducing food waste would help “mitigate climate change, protect biodiversity, improve other environmental outcomes and use our resources more efficiently.”
Liberal Democrat Baroness Janke asked the peer: “Does the minister agree that supermarket promotions such as ‘three for two’ and ‘buy one, get one free’ promote overprovisioning and result in waste?
“What action is being taken to make supermarkets address the causes of food waste?”
In response, Lord Goldsmith said: “Much of the focus of the work that the Government are doing is on trying to get the food sector, at all levels, to reduce the amount of food waste generated.
“Clearly, that involves supermarkets packaging, advertising and presenting their products in a way that helps consumers to make the right choices, with a view to reducing their environmental footprint and food waste.”