By Daniel Hunter

New labelling currently being rolled out across Sainsbury's stores around the country will advise customers to freeze food as soon as possible up to the product's use by date.

WRAP research shows that 60% of us believe that food has to be frozen on the day of purchase, which is reinforced by current labelling. Changing this advice will help stop over-cautious shoppers from throwing away up to 800,000 tonnes of perfectly good food each year.

"The 'freeze on day of purchase' advice needs to be changed as there is no food safety reason why it cannot be frozen at any point prior to the use by date," Beth Hart, Sainsbury's head of product technology for fresh and frozen said.

"As a large UK retailer, we have a responsibility to minimise food waste where possible and this new labelling will certainly help us do that. As one customer pointed out to me while discussing the previous labelling, 'how does the product know which day I purchased it on?'"

Research from Sainsbury's shows that 62 per cent of the UK regularly uses the freezer to lengthen the life of food, while in a separate study by WRAP, only 21 per cent of people interviewed had frozen food nearing its use by date during the past week. For this reason, it is hoped that the new labelling, which has been drawn up in consultation with WRAP will have a great impact.

WRAP figures show that UK households waste around 7.2 million tonnes of food and drink every single year, most of which could have been eaten, costing families up to £50 every single month. WRAP believes that using the freezer more effectively could have a positive impact on customers' wallets and the environment.

"Changing the guidance to freeze before the use by date is a welcome move," Andrew Parry, Consumer Food Waste Prevention Manager, WRAP said.

"Now we can all look in our fridges and know that we can freeze most items which are about to go out of date and enjoy them at a later time. In doing so we can expect to reduce the amount of out of date food we throw away, which will in turn save us all money."

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