Keeping food after ‘best before’ date will help reduce waste

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 04 March, 2017, 12:16am
UPDATED : Saturday, 04 March, 2017, 8:44pm

One of the reasons we are all wasting too much food is because most of it that is being sold in supermarkets have “use by” and “best before” dates, instead of only “sell by”, which is really confusing to consumers.

In fact, a “use by” date is the last day recommended for the use of the product while at peak quality. The date has been determined by the manufacturer of the product. On the contrary, the “best before” dates are more about quality than safety, except for eggs. So when the date runs out, it does not mean that the food will be harmful, even though it might begin to lose some flavour and texture.

I used to throw away the “best before” date products when it is already the last day. However, in recent years, I discovered that their quality is still there, if it is just past the last day by a few days.

We also tend to waste more food when we go to eat a buffet in a restaurant, as we usually take more food than we should. In this regard, perhaps we can learn from a practice in the United Kingdom.

I lived in London for 10 years and one of the rules adopted by some Chinese restaurants which served buffet-style lunch and dinner was to penalise patrons for each plate of unfinished food. This should remind us that each grain of rice picked by the farmers on our plates does not come easily, and the idea has worked well.

Another problem I have found in Hong Kong is that in some restaurants when we ask for a takeaway container, we will be charged, which can put us off.

We can get round this problem by bringing our own container.

If all of us can save just a little bit of food waste, then added together, it will certainly make a big difference.

Eunice Li Dan Yue, Shanghai