Packaging Scotland

Labelling

Brits trust their own senses rather than use-by dates

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A new study has revealed most consumers aren’t “slaves” to best before and use-by dates.

The research from Mintel found that two thirds of people rely on their own senses, such as taste, appearance and smell, to decide if a product is still suitable to eat.

44% of respondents said more detailed ingredient information on packaging, such as where it was sourced and how it was used, would encourage trust, whilst a third would have added trust if there was the name of the farmer or producer on-pack.

The vast majority (85%) of Brits are concerned about the presence of harmful bacteria in food and drink and the same proportion say the lack of hygiene standards in food production and processing are a concern.

Over three quarters (77%) of consumers are concerned about the use of hormones in livestock, and 75% say they’re worried about antibiotics or medicine given to livestock.

Douglas Faughnan, Senior Food and Drink Analyst at Mintel, said, “The lack of understanding and apparent disregard for use-by and best before date labels is problematic on two fronts – consumer safety and food waste. Part of the problem may be down to consumer confusion around what the different terms on-pack mean, with the likes of “use by”, “best before” and “display until” apparently not clear or distinct enough.

“Hygiene standards throughout the supply chain are high on the list of consumer concerns, highlighting the need for brands to reassure wherever they can. Retailers with a strong rating could benefit from displaying the results of food hygiene or food safety checks on premises. Manufacturers could similarly win favour by featuring these on-pack, as a way of proving their commitment to high standards of hygiene and to allay concerns.”

Mintel’s research also shows that half of Brits would trust a company or brand more if it had a clear label from a food quality assurance scheme while the same proportion say they would have more trust if clear packaging was used, so they can see what is inside.