Sainsbury's Smart Label changes colour when ham goes off

Emma Woollacott
Closed Up Image of Several Slices of Some Ham, Differential Focus
Closed Up Image of Several Slices of Some Ham, Differential Focus

Sainsbury's is testing new product labels that change colour to show how fresh food is.

The supermarket has introduced the new label on its packets of seven ham slices across the UK and, says the Sun, is considering expanding it to other products too.

See also: Wait! Don't chuck it out! Best Before doesn't mean what you think

See also: Hundreds of pounds of food binned by Tesco on Christmas Eve

The Smart Fresh label gradually changes from yellow to purple after the pack has been opened, with the speed of the change dependent on the temperature of the fridge.

It means that customers won't be at risk of eating food that's gone off - or of throwing away perfectly good ham.

Recent figures from the government's waste advisory body Wrap show that around 350,000 tonnes of food, worth an estimated £1 billion, is thrown away every year unnecessarily. This figure was contributed to by UK households throwing away 1.9 millions slices of ham every day at a cost of over £170m every year - no wonder Sainsbury's chose to add smart labels to this product first!

"We know that changes to packs and labels, which give clarity around date and storage options, can have a dramatic effect on how much good food ends up in the bin so getting the right messages in place is critical," says Wrap director Steve Creed.

"Around 150,000 tonnes of household food waste was avoided in 2015 compared to 2007, as a result of technical changes to products, saving UK families around £400 million a year."

According to Wrap, you can't always rely on products' guidance on refrigeration. The temperatures used by many manufacturers to set their guidelines often don't reflect reality, it says.

Few people actually make sure their fridge is running at below five degrees - and doing so could add an average of three days to a product's life.

With food prices steadily climbing following the fall in the pound, it's never been more important to try and avoid waste.

Bear in mind that a 'best before' label means exactly that, and that a product won't become dangerous the minute that date is past. Indeed, most foods won't even taste any different at all.

As for 'sell by' dates, these are aimed at the stores themselves, and assume that the buyer will keep the product for a few days before it's eaten - so you should factor that in before you throw food away.

It's the 'use by' date that really matters, as after this date the safety of a particular food item can't be guaranteed.

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