During the 2017 National Food Summit, it became evident that the current Dutch application of the ‘best before’ (THT) and ‘use by’ (TGT) indications are not consistent with European regulations. Therefore, it is necessary to adjust the Dutch legislation accordingly.
Until July 1st, the use by indication is intended for products with a storage condition of at least 0°C and at the most 6°C and/or shelf life of less than 5 days. The best before indication is for all other products. From July 1st, the Commodities Act Decree on BAT will be amended, and the use by label will henceforth appear on all products susceptible to the growth of pathogenic bacteria. The best before indication will solely apply to products that can be kept until the ‘best before’ date without risk of the growth of pathogenic bacteria. Only quality characteristics such as smell, taste, and colour may deteriorate after this date. Specific requirements for storage temperature and shelf life will be omitted.
To illustrate, a product like smoked salmon that has a shelf life of more than five days will have a use by indication as of July 1st. Before that date, this product could also have a best before indication, even though it is a highly perishable product.
In alignment with the European ‘Green Deal’
A goal of the European ‘Green Deal’ is to provide consumers with improved information about the shelf life of products to reduce food waste. First and foremost, a good understanding of best-before dates is crucial for the safe use of food products. In addition, clear information about the shelf life of a product also affects the level of food waste: a misunderstanding of shelf life information leads to the unnecessary discarding of food. This adaptation of the Dutch law is, therefore, an important result of the ‘Green Deal’.
The producer’s role
Producers play a significant role in the consumers’ safe use of food and the prevention of food waste. They help the consumer with distinct information about the shelf life of a product by applying it correctly, concretely, and consistently on the label. This enables consumers to store and use a product safely. Moreover, the unnecessary discarding of food is prevented.