Tesco has stopped adding best before dates to its fruits and vegetables to reduce food waste.
The supermarket chain made the food waste reduction choice based on Women’s Institute research.
Saving Usable Food
Tesco announced its intentions to stop adding best before dates to nearly 70 fresh fruit and vegetable products. Its goal is to stop people from needlessly tossing usable food into the bin. Some of the best before labels the supermarket chain will no longer be using include those on lemons, apples, potatoes, and tomatoes as well as onions and all citrus fruit.
The decision was made following a National Federation of Women’s Institutes report which showed that under half of their survey respondents understood what “best before” dates meant. Retailers add best before dates as an indicator of quality. They are not the same as a “use by” or “expiration” date. That said, many consumers thought of “best before” dates in the same way as they read “use by” dates. As a result, many people were throwing out food that may not have been at its best but that was still perfectly usable.
The Food Standards Agency defines them as follows: “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.”
Tesco Reduces ‘Best Before” Waste
As a result of the NFWI’s report, Tesco has eliminated the “best before” labels on many of its fresh produce items. The hope is that people who weren’t understanding the difference between “best before” and “use by” will stop throwing out as much usable food.
“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,” explained Mark Little, Tesco’s head of food waste. “We have made this change to fruit and vegetable packaging as they are among the most wasted foods.”
Little pointed out that they prefer to examine the fruits and vegetables themselves to determine freshness instead of relying on the packaging “best before” date code.
This move is only the latest in Tesco’s 2017 pledge to end edible food waste by 2018.
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