Do date codes cause food waste? Smart packaging might tackle the problem
Food waste is a multifaceted problem that occurs across various sectors of the food supply chain, causing significant repercussions on the environment, food security, and both global and regional/national economies. One of the most common reasons for food waste is the misunderstanding of food dating (e.g., best-before date), leading to the throwing away of food more frequently. Consumers tend to discard food products as they approach the best-before date due to potential health and safety concerns. Many argue that the diversity of date labels employed by food manufacturers contributes to confusion among consumers regarding both food quality and safety, thus causing food waste. Removing/ supplementing date codes requires the adoption of alternative methods to maintain the freshness and safety of food. Recent advancements in smart packaging have the potential to extend the shelf life and maintain the safety of products equipped with a range of features, which allow the monitoring of the condition of packaged products and provide information. Given the global concern over food waste, this review emphasizes the implementation of smart (active and intelligent) packaging in order to supplement the date labels and assist consumers in reducing their waste and maintain the integrity of its bioactive components.