ΑΤΗΕΝS – Those dates on food packages that many people see as when it must be consumed – but really are the last day on which it should be sold – is leading Greek households to throw out as much as one million tons of foodstuffs annually.
A survey by the Research Institute of Retail Consumer Goods (IELKA) put the waste at 300,000 tons a year – enough to feed 200,000 people – and was based on what consumers reported, historically far lower than the actual rate, said Kathimerini.
A recent study by the AB Vassilopoulos supermarket chain in cooperation with Harokopio University gave the higher estimate of food tossed although it could have been safely consumed, people believing they would get ill if they ate it.
A significant reason why households throw away large quantities of food is the confusion created by the “best before” marks on packaging with a 2018 European Commission survey findingit causes more than 10 percent of food waste.
The European Union will propose new ways for marking food products by the end of 2022 and a University of Patra survey said 28.4 percent of Greeks aren’t familiar with the difference between the expiry date and for consumption.
The IELKA consumer survey showed that 29 percent of households declared they do not waste any food and 60 percent said they throw away no more than 10 percent while 9 percent said the waste is from 10-25 percent.
Most of the food tossed is fruits and vegetables that could show visible signs of likely not being consumable, 68 percent of people throwing them out, followed by breadstuffs, cold cuts, dairy products, sweets and snacks and milk.
Some 21 percent said the waste was because they didn’t properly manage the storage and 18 percent to buying more than needed but there was no report on how much cooked food is tossed after being on the table.