Waitrose is the latest supermarket to axe best before dates from fresh produce
In a bid to tackle food waste, Waitrose has announced it will get rid of best before dates on almost 500 fresh products in-store.
The change will affect a variety of items from September, including fruits like grapes, lemons and apples, root vegetables, and salad items.
By getting rid of best before dates, the supermarket hopes to enable its customers to use their own judgement when consuming foods.
According to Marija Rompani, John Lewis Partnership Director of Sustainability & Ethics, Brits throw away 4.5 million tonnes of edible food every year. Much of this is influenced by best before dates.
These dates are designed to showcase food quality for customers, instead of food safety, and should be used only as guidance. Particularly for fresh produce, it is just as effective to use sight and smell to check if it is still good to eat.
“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,” said Rompani.
Best before dates are not the same as use by dates, and Waitrose has confirmed these will still be in place across all products. Where best before dates should be used as a suggestion, eating food past its use by date is not advised, and can lead to food poisoning.
Waitrose is working with climate action organisation WRAP to make the change. Catherine David, Director of Collaboration and Change at the NGO said: “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.”
Waitrose is the latest supermarket to re-evaluate use by and best before dates.
Tesco and Marks & Spencer have also scrapped best before dates on fresh produce, with the former beginning this process as early as 2018.
Meanwhile Morrisons announced earlier this year it would be switching from use by to best before dates on its milk to help customers reduce waste. The Co-op made a similar move in April concerning its own-brand yoghurts.
Though getting rid of best before dates is one effective way to reduce food waste, some start-ups are attacking the problem in a different way.
Last month labelling technology company Oli-Tec launched its new time and temperature sensitive smart label, which mirrors the life cycle of food products to indicate when they’ve gone bad.