Canadians oppose scrapping best-before dates on food packaging, study reveals

CANADA – A study by The Agri-food Analytics Lab (AAL) of Dalhousie University reveals that the majority of Canadians oppose eliminating best-before dates on food products to reduce food waste because of food safety contradictions in Canada.

According to the results of the survey, 62 percent of Canadians are in opposition of removing ‘best-before’ dates in an effort to reduce waste, and two-thirds said they were “strongly opposed.”

Though 27 percent said they would strongly support or support eliminating those date labels.

“The results of the survey open up some rich perspective into Canadian consuming habits,” says Dr. Mark Juhasz, Research Associate at Dalhousie University’s Agri-Food Analytics Lab.

“This is a fertile ground for more research, maybe even comparing perceptions of ‘best before’ compared to expiry dates.”

‘Best-before’ dates are not the same as expiration date, the aim is to help indicate the quality of a product, not the safety.

Experts say best before dates are more like guidelines to preserve quality, but a new survey shows many Canadians still strictly abide by the food label, which leads to food waste.

Depending on the type of food, Canadians’ responses to the question of how frequently they monitor expiration dates will differ significantly.

The study results show that 73 percent of Canadians always check the expiration dates on dairy products, but only 32 percent do the same for packaged foods and non-perishables. Consumers who are older and women are more prone to always check expiration dates.

The survey looked into how people decide which foods to buy or consume based on best-before dates.

Firstly, 78 percent of Canadians consumed food after its best-before date had expired and 44 percent purchased food past its expiration date because it was marked down to a discount price.

Also, 65 percent of Canadian consumers have thrown away unopened food because it was past its best-before date.

Even though many Canadians are ready to purchase and eat food past the best-before date, many will discard unopened food products.

For a great deal, the willingness to purchase a product in Canada without a best-before date would differ significantly depending on the food category.

According to the report, only 15% of Canadians would be prepared to buy dairy products without an expiration date while 68% of Canadians as a whole would.

Except for vegetables, there aren’t many statistical differences between areas, however, men are more likely to be willing to purchase food items without a best-before date.

With the exception of dairy, younger shoppers are more inclined to purchase products without a best-before date.

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