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  • Writer's pictureDoug Hull

The Nose Knows..

Meet my dog Joey. You may remember him from one of my earlier blogs where I talked about saving his weight in CO2 with my solar panels. Well Joey has a super-power and sadly it is not intelligence. He, like most dogs, has an amazing sense of smell. This means he can successfully seek out "tasty morsels" of food in the bushes on our morning walks. I am not too happy about this in general as he ends up eating horrendous things that I will not mention, however I have to marvel at how he is led by, and completely trusts his nose. Perhaps us humans can learn a lesson here...

I have blogged before about the problem of food waste, and its contribution to greenhouse gas emissions, so it is heartening to hear that supermarket chains in the UK are doing something positive to combat this scourge. Waitrose, Morrisons and Tesco (among others) have all recently announced that they will scrap the 'use by' dates on many of their fresh products in an attempt to reduce food waste. Their suggestion: use the sniff test to tell if something is past it or not. Much like Joey would do!

Now of course there are certain sections of the supermarket where expiry dates are absolutely necessary for hygiene and health reasons - like the meat section - but many fruit and vegetables can last a lot longer than the dates they carry would suggest. The Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) reports that 4.5 million tonnes of perfectly-edible food (including fruit and veggies falsely deemed to be past their prime) is discarded every year in the UK alone. In the US it is estimated that across the food industry roughly a third of all food is discarded every year. Part of this reason is consumer uncertainty around labelling. Think "use by" versus "sell by" versus "best before" versus "expires on" etc. It seems obvious that simplification of food labelling, and downright scrapping of it for certain products, will help reduce the wastage, and may also contribute to lower food prices.

Removing or simplifying food labelling is one thing, but in some cases supermarkets are limited by the prevailing legislation. For example, in the state of Montana in the USA there is a law that states that fresh milk cannot be sold if more than 12 days has elapsed since it was pasteurised. In the rest of the USA this period be between 20 and 24 days, but for some reason in Montana the dairy industry-influenced policy-makers have cut this period drastically, which means that thousands of litres of good quality milk is discarded daily. And let's face it - milk is fairly easy to apply the 'sniff-test' to. Why do they do this? My guess is somebody in the dairy industry thought this would create a perception of Montana having the freshest milk in all the land. In reality, it just results in wastage on a huge scale with good quality milk being poured down the drain on a daily basis. What a waste of protein, never mind the scores of dairy cows who effectively farted for no good reason!

As is so often the case, real change needs to start at the top, and government legislation remains arguably the most powerful driver in this regard. Let's hope that the will of the people will prevail over the lobbying power of Big-Agriculture... but I am not holding my breath. There is too often a fishy smell around politicians. And I don't need Joey's super power to detect it!

Until next time!


aka The Regeneralist

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2 commenti

06 set 2022

Love this article, Doug. Best before dates are ridiculous on a lot of items. I actually look out for the expiring stuff at our supermarkets to buy as its heaps cheaper at half the price and is still good to use. In fact, cream used just just before its about to turn, makes the best butter.

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Doug Hull
Doug Hull
06 set 2022
Risposta a

Absolutely, and where would the French cheese industry be if rotten cheese was not allowed? :-)

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