Tesco is to remove ‘Best Before’ consumption guidance dates off nearly 70 fruit and vegetable lines in a move to help reduce food waste and to prevent perfectly edible food from being thrown away.
It follows a recent campaign by the National Federation of Women’s Institutes (NFWI) into causes of food waste which found that less than half of respondents understood the meaning of ‘Best Before’ dates. However, more than 70 per cent of people polled by NFWI correctly identified the meaning of ‘Use By’ labels which have to be put on all foods where there is a safety risk if they are eaten after that date.
‘Best Before’ labels are put on foods by retailers as a quality indication to show that although they are no longer at their best they are still good to eat.
Tesco Head of Food Waste Mark Little explains:
“We know some customers may be confused by the difference between ‘Best Before’ and ‘Use By’ dates on food and this can lead to perfectly edible items being thrown away before they need to be discarded. We have made this change to fruit and vegetable packaging as they are among the most wasted foods. “Many customers have told us that they assess their fruit and vegetables by the look of the product rather than the ‘Best Before’ date code on the packaging.”
The Food Standards Agency states that “the best before date, sometimes shown as BBE, is about quality and not safety. The food will be safe to eat after this date but may not be at its best.”
David Moon, Head of Business Collaboration at WRAP said:
“Through the Courtauld Commitment 2025, WRAP is working with the food & drink sector to review all the evidence on date labelling for fresh produce and agree best practice. This change by Tesco provides a good opportunity to learn about the customer response, and we anticipate Tesco will share their findings. With all fresh produce, appropriate storage including use of the refrigerator is essential in giving the customer more time to use their food, so clarity of storage advice on pack and in-store will be vital.”
The fruit and vegetables include popular lines such as apples, potatoes, tomatoes, lemons and other citrus fruit and onions.