Waste: British supermarket removes best before date on 500 products

Waste: UK supermarket removes best before date on 500 products


LONDON | British supermarkets Waitrose announced on Monday that they were removing the best-before dates on nearly 500 products, to avoid discouraging their customers from consuming food that is still good and thus combating food waste. 

< p>From September, Waitrose will remove 'best before' labels, an indicative date beyond which it remains safe to eat a product, on nearly 500 fresh produce, particularly fruit and vegetables under packaging, the company said in a statement.

The move “aims to reduce the volume of food waste in UK households by asking customers to use their judgment” when deciding whether a product is still edible, the high-end supermarket chain added.

< p>“Food waste is still a major problem” and British households “throw away 4.5 million tonnes of edible food every year”, says Marija Rompani, director of sustainable development for the John Lewis department store group, parent company of Waitrose.

The “best before” indicator is essentially linked to the taste or nutritional quality of a product, and corresponds to the “minimum durability date” in France.

On the other hand, the mention “use by” (consume before), which appears on perishable products, is an imperative mention and its non-respect presents health risks, in the same way as the expiry date across the Channel.

“We estimate that removing dates on fresh fruit and vegetables could save the equivalent of 7 million baskets of food from the bin,” according to Waitrose.

The company is following in the footsteps of other British brands, such as the sector giant Tesco, which had removed the recommended consumption dates on around a hundred products from 2018, or more recently Marks and Spencer which had done the same on 300 references.< /p>

Morrisons, another supermarket chain, had announced in January the removal not of the recommended date but of the best before date on 90% of its private label milk, encouraging its customers to smell the contents of the bottle to know if it is still good .