Accepted Paper:

Best før, ofte god etter (best before, often good after) - the construction, practice and consequences of the expiration date of food in Norway  


Tanja Plasil (Norwegian University of Science and Technology)

Paper short abstract:

I will present how today's date labelling was constructed and I then follow its practical consequences all along the food chain. Building on these findings, I want to invite participants to share their experiences with the expiration date and to discuss more sustainable ways of date labelling.

Paper long abstract:

Whenever we do our grocery shopping or when we go through our food storage we are confronted with the expiration date. This date enables us to shop, and later eat, without making decisions within a wide array of topics - from hygiene and safety to legal and moral questions on value and waste. Rather, these decisions have been delegated to regulations, standards and technologies incorporated in the expiration date. The implementation of this governmental technology did not only standardize the shelf life of food, but it also transformed the ways goods are created, produced, transported, sold, consumed and discarded off. Due to growing piles of food waste the sustainability of the standardized shelf-life of food has been contested in recent years and alternative ways of date labelling are sought after (by activists, consumers, politicians and industry). However, before being able to find new solutions we need to understand where the expiration date as a government policy came from, what made it so successful and what are its implications and consequences along the whole food chain. Drawing on my research on the construction, practice and consequences of date labelling in Norway I want to open the discussion about both, the continuous need but also alternatives for the expiration date of food, in order to make our food chains more sustainable.

Panel C28
Meetings over and around food