The labels, being rolled out across all of Sainsbury’s stores, will advise customers to freeze food as soon as possible up to the product’s use by date. Currently most food products in the UK advise shoppers to freeze on the day of purchase.

The initiative has been launched in partnership with WRAP, whose own research shows that 60% of consumers believe that food has to be frozen on the day of purchase. Changing this advice will help stop over-cautious shoppers from throwing away up to 800,000 tonnes of good food each year.

Sainsbury’s head of product technology for fresh and frozen Beth Hart 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 a large UK retailer, we have a responsibility to minimise food waste where possible and this new labelling will certainly help us do that. 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% of consumers regularly use the freezer to lengthen the life of food, while in a separate study by WRAP, only 21% of people interviewed had frozen food nearing its use by date during the past week. For this reason, it is hoped the new labelling will have a great impact.

WRAP’s consumer food waste prevention manager Andrew Parry 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 Now we can all look in our fridges and know that we can freeze most items which are about to go out of date and enjoy them at a later time.”

Maxine Perella

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