Waitrose to scrap best before dates on hundreds of fresh food products

Waitrose will remove “best before” dates on nearly 500 of its fresh food products in a bid to reduce food waste.

From September, the grocery giant will scrap the dates on packaged fruit and vegetables to encourage consumers to use their own judgement about when food has gone off.

The move is expected to eliminate millions of baskets worth of food waste by preventing people from throwing away products that are still edible.

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    Why are supermarkets scrapping best before dates on some products?

    Tesco led the way for the high street supermarkets when it got rid of the dates on more than 100 fresh food products in 2018.

    Earlier this month, Marks & Spencer axed “best before” dates from more than 300 fruit and vegetable products following a successful trial.

    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.

    “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.”

    Other supermarkets have taken steps to reduce food waste as they face growing pressure from sustainability groups.

    In January, Morrisons announced plans to remove “use by” dates on milk and encourage consumers to use a “sniff test” instead to determine if it is okay to consume.

    What’s the difference between best before and use by dates?

    Waitrose said “best before” dates are designed to show food quality rather than how safe it is to eat.By comparison, “use by” dates are given for safety and could result in food poisoning if ignored.

    Experts at Waste & Resources Action Programme (Wrap) said “best before” dates on fruit and vegetables are unnecessary and contribute to 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.

    “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.”