FEATURE: How long after the marked date is it safe to eat?

Confused by food labels? Click on the food in the image below to find out how long food really lasts after its ‘best before’ or ‘use by’ date.

Image courtesy of City University refectory.

Can’t find the food your looking for? Visit EatByDate for more information.


GUEST POST: ‘Snact’ the new and healthy anti-food waste snack

Mike&Ilana copy
Photography by Ilana Taub

Ilana Taub is the co-founder of Snact, a fruit jerky Snact made from good fruit that is thrown away before it reaches shops. Did you know that we waste 15 million tonnes of food in the UK each year?

It’s because of that reason that my friend Michael Minch-Dixon and I decided to start Snact – we make fruit snacks from fruit that would otherwise be thrown away to tackle the causes of food waste.
About two years ago, we came together with a shared passion for food and sustainability and a desire to do our own thing. So we quit our jobs and set off on a journey to see how we could create a better food system. We started visiting London’s wholesale markets, collecting fruit at the end of the trading day and making it into snacks in our rented kitchen in Hackney.
We then ran a successful crowdfunding campaign supported by 278 backers (or snactivists) which has helped grow and produce our latest and finest fruit jerky! Our fruit jerky is a dried blended snack bursting with flavours made with 100% fruit and nothing else.
Photography by Ilana Taub
And you know what else is great about fruit jerky? It’s perfect to deal with fruit surplus – too big, too small, too ugly, too dark, too light… Doesn’t matter! As long as it tastes great, it’s perfect for us. We also quickly realized that food poverty is a growing issue in the UK (with more than 900,000 people visiting food banks last year), so we started to explore how Snact could address this too. We’re aiming to create employment opportunities for people who’ve been affected by food poverty to help us sell and distribute our snacks.

To this end, we recently launched a subscription model where you can get snacks delivered to you directly. 80 subscriptions in London will help us create one job! If you’d like to find out more about Snact & our subscription model, visit our website and spread the word! Ilana Taub, March 16th 2015 And you can catch Snact at Borough Market on 28th March where their fruit jerky snacks will be on sale.

Snact Fruit Jerky from Ilana Taub on Vimeo.

DEBATE: Should we do away with best before dates?

There’s a lot of confusion about dates- best before, use by, sell by… what does it all mean?

Each year one million tonnes of untouched food is thrown away after the best before date, even though it’s still safe to eat.

Best before dates indicate when the food will be at its best. It may lose its flavour or texture but remains edible.

Best before should NOT be confused with the use by date which refers to when the food can no longer be safely eaten. Sell by or display until dates are for shop staff only for the purpose of stock rotation.

Click on the image below for more information on food labelling:


With the exception of eggs, it’s legal to sell food after its best before date. And yet most supermarkets chose not to for aesthetic reasons.

Selling products past their best before date has proved a profitable business plan for Dan Cluderay, the founder of the Approved Foods company in Sheffield, who’s made over £4 million in the last 6 years.

He believes people are too paranoid about best before dates:

So if food is safe to eat past its best before date- why not get rid of the best before date altogether?

EU law on food labelling requires all items to have a best before date, or a use by date for products that would subsequently be dangerous to consume, such as raw meat or milk.

But since May 2014 the EU have been considering relaxing best before dates for long life foods after a proposal was submitted by Dutch and Swedish agriculture ministers.

Last week (5th March) Waste and Resource Action Programme (WRAP) launched a campaign for supermarkets to extend best before dates by just one day, which their report estimates would save 250,000 tonnes of food a year.

Dr. Richard Swannell, Director of Sustainable Food Systems at WRAP:

We estimate that shoppers could save upwards of £500m, and businesses could save £100m in waste prevention alone.

But the British Food Standards Agency which enforces labelling supports the current system.

It’s also unclear whether best before dates are the biggest cause of food waste. It’s not only untouched food which is thrown away- a large amount of cooked and prepared food is wasted.

A study by WRAP identified over 30 common reasons for household food waste including buying and preparing too much, and not liking the food prepared.

I headed out to a North London supermarket to find out what you had to say about eating food past its best before date and whether we should ban the label altogether:

Tell us what you think!

Top food saving cafes in London

Want to grab cheap and healthy up-cycled food on the go? Here’s our list of London’s top picks…

Click on the map:

North London

1) The People’s Kitchen Passing Clouds (@PeoplesKitchen)

peoples kitchen
Image by @PeoplesKitchen_

A volunteer run community kitchen offering up surplus food dishes. Offers FREE cooking lessons at the Kingsmead Community Centre, Kingsmead Way.

Next event: community feasts served every other Saturday (from 7th February) at 6pm at the Concorde Youth Centre, Kingsmead Way, Hackney. Volunteers welcome from 3pm.

Location: Passing Clouds, 1 Richmond Road, Dalston, E8 4AA

Contact: 07824641927

save the date
Image by James Smart

2) Save The Date (@savethedatecafe)

Part of the nationwide Real Junk Food Project, Save the Date cafe is a pop-up kitchen in Dalston providing restaurant quality surplus food on a pay-as-you-feel basis. For more information read our interview with co-founder James Smart.

Location: Abbot Street, Dalston

Opening times: Wednesday- Friday, 3pm-10pm

Next event: Disco Soup, 20th March, 17:00-23:55. Find out more.

Image by @CafeMorningSide

3) Cafe Morningside (@CafeMorningSide) A community cafe in Hackney which values community, food sustainability and healthy eating. Volunteers welcome! To read more about Cafe Morningside see our article. Location: Morningside Community Centre, Cresset Road, Hackney

Contact: 07587083131

Opening times: Thursday and Friday, 9am-4pm

South London
brixton pk
Image by @BrixtonPK

4) Brixton People’s Kitchen (@BrixtonPK)

Part of the People’s Kitchen group, this Brixton community cafe run by volunteers cooks up surplus food for people across South London.

Contact: 07466653761 or volunteerwithbrixtonpk@gmail.com

Next event: 

East London

5) FoodCycle Pie in the Sky Cafe (@FoodCycleCafe)

Image by @FoodCycle

The food saving charity, FoodCycle’s very own community cafe in Bromley by Bow. Run by volunteers it serves up affordable, healthy dishes made from surplus food.

Location: Bromley by Bow Centre, St Leonards Street

Contact: nicola@foodcycle.org.uk

Opening times: Monday-Friday, 8:30am-3:30pm

To find out more check out our liveblog and extended interview with cafe manager Nicola Corney. For other FoodCycle hubs across London visit their website.

West London

6) West London People’s Kitchen (@WestLondonPK)

west london peoples kitchen
Image by @WestLondonPK

Runs pop-up kitchens serving meals and snacks made from surplus food across West London, with payment on a pay-as-you-feel basis. Volunteers welcome!

Next event:

FOODSAVE: Reducing waste for London businesses

Saving food is not only good for the planet but could help you save a bob or two!

The FoodSave project is helping London food businesses to do just that by showing them how to responsibly managing their waste.

A sushi restaurant in Liverpool Street station has saved over £14,000 a year by reducing its food waste with the help of FoodSave.

Moshi moshi
See the interactive version here.

Moshi Moshi sushi restaurant is a pioneer for sustainability, becoming the first restaurant in the UK to take bluefin tuna off its menus in 1998 and win Marine Stewardship Accreditation.

Its founder, Caroline Bennett, is actively involved in a number of sustainable food initiatives and has won awards for her campaign work to protect fish stocks.

The FoodSave team monitored Moshi Moshi’s using the Winnow Waste Monitor System for four weeks.

During the audit all food waste was measured including inventory spoilage, preparation waste, and plate waste.

The report found that 75% of food waste came from plate waste and prepared not served food waste.

Thanks to FoodSave, £209 was saved in food waste costs per week over the course of the project.

Overall 858kg of food waste was saved per year and 1.2 tonnes diverted from landfill.

Caroline Bennett, the founder and owner of Moshi Moshi said FoodSave was “an eye opener.”

“It helped us in quantify that employing an extra chef on a quiet shift was actually more cost effective than pre-preparing food and then wasting it if the shift wasn’t busy.”

Funded by the European Regional Development Fund, the London Waste and Recycling Board and the Mayor of London, FoodSave is a free service available to all London food businesses.

It’s already helped to save an average of £6,000 per business and aims to help up to 200 businesses by the end of the project in March 2015.

To find out more and sign up visit their website.