Piccadilly Pulse: Half of the world’s food is ‘thrown away’… do you stick to use-by dates?

By Ben Ireland

Around half of the world’s food is thrown away each year it was revealed this week.

MM took to the streets of Manchester to see if Mancunians stick to use-by dates set by food companies.

Food snobbery, poor storage and bulk offers for shoppers are raised as issues of concern in the report, Global Food; Waste Not, Want Not.

Sell-by and use-by dates give consumers an idea of when a product might be too old to eat safely, but many Mancunians feel the guidelines are too strict.

On the other hand, however, many air on the side of caution, especially on products such as meat and dairy.

We took to the streets of Manchester to ask:

Do you stick to use-by dates?



There is a divide in opinion, but many of those that take a more relaxed stance on the use-by dates voiced concerns that the powers that be have forced supermarkets into giving these strict guidelines to cover their backs.

Many believe complaints from consumers who ate products that were within use-by dates could cost food companies dearly in compensation payments.

Jeff Wood, 40, a wedding cinematographer from Boden, said: “We throw away a lot of food. I’ve got two kids and they just don’t finish their tea. I would say we throw away about 80% of our food.”

Robbie Miller, 33, a scaffolder from Liverpool, added: “I chuck anything that looks off. It’s not worth getting ill over dodgy milk is it?”

Jacky Dorman, 47, from Eccles, said: “People are definitely too picky. The only thing I would chuck out the day after is meat because it can give you food poisoning like salmonella; things like veg. and tins can last a lot longer than people think.”

Sisters Abi, 23, and Katy, 20 Clapham from Glossop agreed their stance is down to the product. Katy said: “I would be careful of dairy, but when I was a student I did a lot of my shopping from the reduced section and it never bothered me.”

Abi added: “For one day it’s ok, but I would start to get worried after that.”

Twenty year-old Kay Slinger from Denton doesn’t like to throw things out: “I have eaten things that are a couple of days off, but always check. I would never throw something away without giving it a smell first to make sure.”

“It’s common sense really,” said Vivienne, 51, a secretary and PA from Wigan. “It’s a guide not a be all and end all. I’m careful with cooked meats, if it was a day off then fine but when it starts to change colour I’d throw it away.”

Sri Lankan student Van Raj, 20, added: “If it’s something I would cook then I might think twice about it, but if it’s something I can eat raw then I would probably eat it out of date.”

IT worker Ana Silva, 32, from Didsbury, said: “It depends how I would use it. Meat needs to be cooked and vegetables need to be boiled and if something has been in a tin for long enough to off I would definitely be worried.”

Martin Felham, a pensioner from Gorton, 73, noted a generation gap: “It’s different these days. We grew up when you couldn’t afford to be picky, so I’ve gotten into the habit of using everything up.”

Stretford Chef Daniel Arrowsmith, 23, said: “I would eat stuff myself, but my girlfriend always throws things out before they are really off. I think the companies need to give over cautious dates to cover their backs for things like insurance. The restaurant doesn’t let us use perfectly good food if it’s a day off.”

Ian Pickles, a 59-year-old baker said: “We have a culture of blame in this country, so food companies have to protect themselves from persecution. The industry is scared. 

“I’m a culprit myself, but it’s my own fault for letting things go off that are well beyond their sell-by date.”

Picture courtesy of istorija, with thanks.

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