By Marcus Leach

Ministers have, in a bid to cut waste and save shoppers money, suggested that sell-by dates should be scrapped.

Data from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs say that UK households discard five million tonnes of edible food each year - equivalent to £680 per household with children.

Critics of the sell-by date attribute a large portion of this £12 billion waste to consumers not understanding the packaging properly.

New government advice says firms should include only use-by or best-before dates and remove sell-by and display-until labels relating to stock control.

Better still, according to the British Retail Consortium, would be to educate the British public on what the dates on the packaging mean.

"We want to end the food labelling confusion and make it clear once and for all when food is good and safe to eat," Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman told BBC Radio 4's Today programme..

"There are products that have several dates on them; use by, best before. Sometimes it says 'display until', which is not relevant at all by the time it's sitting in your fridge.

"So I can understand when people - particularly young people starting out with shopping - look at these dates and say 'I'm not sure about this; better throw it away'."

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