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Industry NewsMajor food companies commit to simplifying food date labels worldwide by 2020

Major food companies commit to simplifying food date labels worldwide by 2020


Thursday, September 28, 2017

Consumers around the world navigate a range of date labels on food products. The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) – a network of 400 of the largest consumer goods companies across 70 countries has approved a Call to Action to standardize food date labels worldwide by 2020, in an effort to reduce food waste.

The CGF board of directors, which includes representatives from companies such as Tesco, Kellogg, Walmart, Campbell Soup, Nestlé and Unilever, unanimously adopted the Call to Action to simplify date labels.

The Call to Action says retailers and food producers should take three important steps to simplify date labels and reduce food waste by 2020:  

  • Only one label at a time.
  • Choice of two labels: one expiration date for perishable items (e.g. “Use by”) and one food quality indicator for non-perishable items (e.g., “Best if used by”). The exact wording will be tailored to regional context.
  • Consumer education to better understand what date labels mean 

The announcement expands national efforts to streamline date labels in the United States, United Kingdom and Japan to the rest of the world.

An estimated 1.3 billion tons of food worldwide is lost or wasted each year. In addition to the labels on products, the Call to Action recommends companies partner with non-profit organizations and government agencies to educate consumers about how to interpret date labels. Education efforts could include in-store displays, web materials and public service announcements.

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