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UK Supermarkets Scrapping Best Before Dates

Claire Reid

| Last updated 

UK Supermarkets Scrapping Best Before Dates

Waitrose has announced it will be scrapping best before dates off hundreds of items - including its fresh fruit and vegetables - in an attempt to combat food waste. 

The supermarket has announced it will be taking the best before dates off almost 500 items from September, in a move that's been praised by sustainability campaigners.

Marija Rompani, director of sustainability and ethics at John Lewis Partnership, which owns Waitrose, said: “UK households throw away 4.5 million tonnes of edible food every year, meaning that all the energy and resources used in food production is wasted.

“By removing best before dates from our products, we want our customers to use their own judgement to decide whether a product is good to eat or not, which in turn will increase its chances of being eaten and not becoming waste.

Credit: PA Wire/PA Images
Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

“By using up existing fresh food in our homes, we can also save on our weekly household food shop, which is becoming an increasingly pressing concern for many.”

Waitrose explained that ‘best before’ dates are designed to show food quality rather than how safe it is to eat.

Whereas ‘use by’ dates are given for safety and could result in food poisoning if ignored.

The move has been praised by experts from Waste & Resources Action Programme (Wrap) who say that best before dates on fruit and veg are unnecessary and contribute towards climate change. 

Catherine David, director of collaboration and change at Wrap said: “Best before dates on fruit and veg are unnecessary and create food waste because they get in the way of people using their judgement when food is still good to eat.

“We are absolutely delighted by this move from Waitrose which will help stop good food ending up in the bin.

Credit: Just Jus/Alamy Stock Photo
Credit: Just Jus/Alamy Stock Photo

“We estimate that removing dates on fresh fruit and veg could save the equivalent of seven million shopping baskets of food from the bin, which is huge.”

Wrap estimates that a whopping 4.5 million tonnes of perfectly edible food is chucked away in the UK each year. 

The issue of food waste has led to supermarkets coming under increasing pressure to be more sustainable. 

Prior to Waitrose’s announcement, Tesco and Marks & Spencer have both already removed the best before dates off hundreds of items. 

And Morrisons announced it was taking use by dates off fresh milk, encouraging customers to use a ‘sniff test’ to see if it’s OK to drink. 

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: UK News, Food And Drink

Claire Reid
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