Fresh food move

Waitrose scraps ‘best before’ dates to cut waste

Tonnes of edible food is thrown out every year

Waitrose has become the latest food retailer to remove “best before” dates to help reduce waste.

It will stop the practice on nearly 500 fresh fruit and vegetable products from next month and encourage shoppers to use a ‘sight and smell’ test.

The John Lewis owned chain follows a decision by Marks & Spencer last month to axe “best before” dates from more than 300 products as retailers try to stop the disposal of edible food.

They also say it will help shoppers reduce their food bill by not throwing out products before they go off. The average family throws out £700 of edible food each year.

Unlike ‘use by’ dates, ‘best before’ dates have been applied to reflect the quality of food rather than how safe it is eat.

Both Waitrose and M&S are years behind Tesco which removed the labels on more than 100 fresh food products in 2018. In January, Morrisons announced it would remove ‘use by’ dates on milk.

Supermarkets are taking other steps to improve sustainability by reducing plastic packaging and encouraging shoppers to use their own bags.

Marija Rompani, director of sustainability and ethics at John Lewis Partnership, 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 judgment to decide whether a product is good to eat or not.

“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.”

The action group Waste & Resources Action Programme (Wrap) said says 4.5 million tonnes of edible food is thrown away each year and ‘best before’ dates on fruit and vegetables leads to more food being dumped in landfill which contributes to carbon emissions.

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