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Open AccessArticle

Expiry Dates, Consumer Behavior, and Food Waste: How Would Italian Consumers React If There Were No Longer “Best Before” Labels?

Department for Innovation in Biological, Agro-Food and Forest Systems (DIBAF), University of Tuscia, Via S. Camillo De Lellis, SNC 01100 Viterbo, Italy
Sustainability 2019, 11(23), 6821; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11236821
Received: 21 September 2019 / Revised: 8 November 2019 / Accepted: 28 November 2019 / Published: 1 December 2019
Much research has been carried out on food losses and waste in the various stages of the food supply chain, consolidating the “fight” against food waste as one of the most important challenges in industrialized countries. Numerous different studies have focused on food waste at the household level, identifying both the multiple causes linked to this behavior and the factors that can drive towards the reduction of food waste. In this paper, a different approach was used, trying to analyze different individuals’ reactions to a concrete action consisting of removing “best before” labels from some food products, following the recent proposal by European Union to simplify date marking. How could any action in this area be implemented in every single country? Bearing in mind the general results of the cross-sectional official survey Flash Eurobarometer n. 425, the purpose of this study was to go deeper into the study of how consumers would behave if the expiry date were no longer available on a pack of spaghetti. The heterogeneity observed in the possible alternative reactions across European Union 28 countries, as well as by considering the importance played by the local context in which individuals reside led us to focus on a single country, and specifically on the Italian context, as an example of country in which citizens have a higher average level of knowledge about expiration dates than the global EU28 citizens, but where, at the same time, there is a more conservative behavior regarding using a product with no expiry date. The multinomial regression model—estimated using the generalized maximum entropy estimator—enabled us to identify different profiles and groups of individuals with which—as a suggestion to policy makers—it would be first necessary to intervene in order to standardize the level of knowledge on this specific topic. In this direction, territorial macro-areas proved to be strongly associated with the various reactions; the probability of consuming or throwing away was found to significantly differ across all the studied regional macro-areas, with a higher likelihood of throwing away the product with no best-before date in southern regions. View Full-Text
Keywords: food waste; consumer behavior; expiration label; Italy; entropy; multinomial logistic regression food waste; consumer behavior; expiration label; Italy; entropy; multinomial logistic regression
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Secondi, L. Expiry Dates, Consumer Behavior, and Food Waste: How Would Italian Consumers React If There Were No Longer “Best Before” Labels? Sustainability 2019, 11, 6821.

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