Some 92 per cent of Canadians in a recent survey say they use the best before date on packages to determine whether a food item is good to eat.

That kind of statistic resonated with the social impact company Too Good To Go. As a result they have started a “Look-Smell-Taste” initiative in Canada as a way to help reduce food waste.

The Danish company wants to encourage people to “trust their senses and assess food based on its look, smell and taste,” rather than based on the best before date.

The study by Leger and Too Good To Go also found that four in 10 Canadians admitted to throwing out food once a week if it had reached its best before date.

Too Good To Go says that Canadians can save up to $400 a year by not throwing out food because the best before date had passed.

Best before dates are defined by the David Suzuki Foundation as “the period during which a product is expected to be at its best quality. But it doesn’t mean the item is unsafe to consume afterwards. Best before dates are only required on foods that stay fresh for 90 days or less.”

With the exception of food becoming moldy or going off, the only downside to eating food past its best before date is that it “may loose some of its freshness, flavour and nutritional value,” according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Best before dates are not to be confused with expired labels. If a product has expired, that means it is no longer safe to consume and should be composted, the agency says. And people should be cautious about certain high risk foods such meat, dairy products, poultry and fish since bacteria can begin to grow, causing food borne illnesses.

Food manufacturers create best before dates on products. There are no regulations when it comes to determining the durable life of a product.

Too Good To Go is partnering with manufacturers and producers to incorporate a “Look-Smell-Taste” label on some products to encourage consumers to trust their senses.

This partnership has already been successful in Europe where more than 500 brands have incorporated “Look-Smell-Taste” labels on more than six billion packs of products since 2019.

Participating brands in the Too Good To Go include Cracker Barrel (Lactalis) or Ristorante (Dr. Oetker)as well as local brands, such as Gatineau’s Flirt Drinks.