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Food: Waste

Environment Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 8th June 2011.

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Photo of Tom Blenkinsop Tom Blenkinsop Labour, Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what regulations govern the provision by retail outlets and restaurants of items of food past their sell-by date to homeless people and charitable organisations.

Photo of James Paice James Paice The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

There are no specific regulations which cover the provision of food to homeless people or charities.

However businesses should be aware of the following.

The Food Safety Act 1990 (as amended) provides the framework for all food legislation in Britain—similar legislation applies in Northern Ireland. This provides food safety requirements to prevent food being food sold or given away by a food business that would be injurious to health or unfit for consumption.

The Food Labelling Regulations 1996 (as amended) require that all pre-packed foods carry a durability indication, either a ‘best before’ or ‘use by’ date. It is against the law to supply food for human consumption past the ‘use by’ date as the safety of the food is likely to be compromised. Food can be supplied after the ‘best before’ date, as long as the food is fit for consumption and not injurious to health.

‘Sell by’ dates are voluntary markings by retailers and as such there are no regulations covering their use.

Most of the provision in the Food Labelling Regulations do not apply to catering establishments, including providing date marks. However, the Food Safety Act requirements still apply and the food would have to be safe.

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