Waitrose to scrap best before dates on hundreds of products

Waitrose is going to scrap best before dates on hundreds of fresh food products. Credit: PA

Waitrose will remove “best before” dates on nearly 500 fresh food products in efforts to reduce food waste.

From September, the grocery giant will scrap the dates on packaged fruit and vegetables to encourage consumers to use their own judgment about when food has gone off.

The move is expected to eliminate millions of baskets worth of food waste by preventing people throwing away products that are still edible, the retailer claimed.

Earlier this month, Marks & Spencer axed “best before” dates from more than 300 fruit and vegetable products following a successful trial.

Tesco led the way for the high street supermarkets when it got rid of the dates on more than 100 fresh food products in 2018.

Marija Rompani, director of sustainability and ethics at John Lewis Partnership, which owns Waitrose, 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.

The best before dates will be removed from September Credit: Waitrose/PA

“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, which in turn will increase its chances of being eaten and not becoming waste.

“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.”

“Best before” dates are designed to show food quality rather than how safe it is eat, Waitrose said.

Whereas “use by” dates are given for safety and could result in food poisoning if ignored.

Experts at Waste & Resources Action Programme (Wrap) said “best before” dates on fruit and vegetables are unnecessary and contribute to climate change.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To know... 

Catherine David, director of collaboration and change at Wrap said: “Best before dates on fruit and veg are unnecessary and create food waste because they get in the way of people using their judgement when food is still good to eat.

“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.”

Other supermarkets have taken steps to reduce food waste as they face growing pressure from sustainability groups.

In January, Morrisons announced plans to remove “use by” dates on milk and encourage consumers to use a “sniff test” instead to determine if it is okay to consume.