Rui Vieira/PA Wire
In an effort to reduce food waste, Sainsbury's have introduced new labelling to reassure customers that many products can still be frozen up to its use by date.
The new initiative, in partnership with the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) will see labelling on many products changed from 'freeze on day of purchase' to 'freeze as soon as possible after purchase and always use within the use by date'.
Research from WRAP found that 60 per cent of us believe food has to be frozen on the day of purchase, and Sainsbury's estimate that changing advice on labels will help prevent over-cautious shoppers from throwing away up to 800,000 tonnes of perfectly good food each year.
Beth Hart, Sainsbury's head of product technology for fresh and frozen, said: "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.
"As one customer pointed out to me while discussing the previous labelling, 'how does the product know which day I purchased it on?"'
Research from Sainsbury's shows that 62 per cent of us regularly use the freezer to lengthen the life of food, while in a separate study by WRAP, only 21 per cent of people interviewed had frozen food nearing its use by date during the past week. It is hoped that the new labelling will have a considerable impact on minimising food waste.
WRAP figures show that UK households waste around 7.2 million tonnes of food and drink every single year, most of which could have been eaten, costing families up to £50 every month. It also found that most freezers are only three quarters full and WRAP believes that using the freezer more effectively could have a positive impact on customers' wallets and the environment.
Andrew Parry, consumer food waste prevention manager at Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP), said: "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 Now we can all look in our fridges and know that we can freeze most items which are about to go out of date and enjoy them at a later time.
"In doing so we can expect to reduce the amount of out of date food we throw away, which will in turn save us all money."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 move follows similar initiatives to attempt to cut food wastage. Last year the government began looking at the possibility of scrapping 'best before' dates after they were branded confusing and misleading. And the Food Standards Agency (FSA) said in December that eggs can be eaten up to two days after they have passed their 'best before' date as long as they are cooked thoroughly.