The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), a group of 400 consumer goods manufacturers from 70 countries, and Champions 12.3 have unanimously agreed for a Call to Action to standardise food date labels worldwide by 2020.

A group of consumer goods makers and retailers such as Tesco, Kellogg, Walmart, Campbell Soup, Bimbo, Pick n Pay, Nestlé, Carrefour and Unilever have supported the plan to simplify food date labels.

Streamlining date codes will help customers to reduce the amount of edible food thrown out by households, saving them money and reducing their environmental footprint.

According to the Call to Action, retailers and food producers are required to consider three steps in order to simplify date labels and reduce food waste.

"Four years ago, Tesco was one of the first retailers to roll out single date coding across our fresh food and meat produce."

The areas of focus include numbers of labels, the inclusion of expiration dates for perishable items and food quality indicators for non-perishable items, and educating consumers on what date labels mean.

In addition to the new labels on products, the Call to Action also urges companies to join hands with the non-profit organisations and government agencies in order to educate consumers about how to interpret date labels.

The announcement expands national efforts to streamline date labels in the US, UK and Japan to the rest of the world. 

Tesco Group chief executive and Chair of Champions 12.3 Dave Lewis said: “Four years ago, Tesco was one of the first retailers to roll out single date coding across our fresh food and meat produce.

“All the evidence from WRAP and our own Tesco research has shown that streamlining date codes helps customers waste less food and it also reduces waste in our own operations.

“That’s why it’s so important we extend this practice to more companies in every country. Streamlining date labels worldwide by 2020 could be game-changing in the fight against global food waste.”

Champions 12.3 is an association that includes leaders across government, business and civil society dedicated to achieving Target 12.3 of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

Target 12.3 calls on the world to “halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses” by 2030.