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The majority of retailers are issuing misleading guidelines to consumers about freezing meat, adding to the UK’s food waste mountain.

A survey by Ask the Q, which looked at freezing guidelines on six different fresh meat lines by 11 retailers across the UK, found eight of the supermarkets and grocery retailers recommended ‘day of purchase’ freezing for their own brand fresh meat products.

However, expert advice is that food can be safely frozen until the use-by date.

The survey also showed 10 out of the 11 retailers recommend consuming frozen meat within a month for most or all of their fresh meat line-up, despite the fact that frozen food remains safe indefinitely.

None of the retailers in the survey explained on their meat packaging that “consume within x month(s)” was for quality purposes only.

“Half of all food waste generated in the UK arises in our homes and meat freezing guidelines that play on consumer fears about food poisoning are leading to unnecessary waste,” said Ask the Q founder Anya Hart Dyke. “This is bad for the wallet and a horrible waste of the resources that have gone into rearing the animal. We are calling on retailers to clearly state, with no qualification, on all of their freezable fresh meat products that they can be safely frozen up until their use-by date and that meat frozen at home should be eaten within a certain timeframe for quality purposes only. They should also consider revising universal ‘consume within one month’ guidance in favour of different timeframes for different meat products, as recommended by the Food Standards Agency.”

Last month, the FSA told The Grocer it was looking at ways to tackle “mass confusion” over labelling guidance to shoppers, with food waste caused by incorrect understanding of ‘use-by’ and ‘sell-by’ dates’ one of the key causes of food waste as well as a major barrier to redistribution by food charities.