Consumer insight: date labels and storage guidance

May 2011 

Determining consumer understanding and use of date labels and storage guidance in order to reduce household food waste.


Previous research by WRAP suggests that helping consumers to better understand date labels and the importance of storing food correctly could make a significant contribution to reducing the 2.9 million tonnes of food and drink thrown away before ever being cooked or served.

This latest report improves understanding of the role of date labels and storage guidance in food-related decision-making in order to see the ways in which they contribute to household food waste.  It provides the evidence for change and ensures that any interventions in this area can be appropriately designed and targeted.

The research concludes that:

  • there is potential for changes in date labelling and storage guidance to make a positive contribution towards the goal of reducing avoidable food waste; and
  • that further and continued effort to promote improved food management skills will be an essential component of maximising the effectiveness of any labelling changes. 

Working closely with the Food Standards Agency (FSA), trade associations and individual companies WRAP have developed a simple tool to help inform decisions around freezing guidance given to consumers – with the objective of moving away from the blanket “freeze on day of purchase” guidance, and giving consumers greater flexibility to freeze foods that they may not be able to eat before the date, BUT without jeopardising food safety or quality.

(Legacy research commissioned by the previous government).

November 2013 Update

WRAP published new estimates on how much food and drink is disposed annually from UK households in November 2013.  The breakdown of avoidable food and drink waste has been updated along with the associated value and environmental impact figures. Go to: