Tesco to abandon ‘best before’ dates

25th May 2018

Currently a lot of packaging has both a ‘use by’ date and a ‘best before’ date on it, but now a selection of fruit and vegetable produce will no longer carry the latter.

The reason given is that shoppers have professed themselves ‘confused’ by the labelling, which was intended to be a quality indicator guiding people as to when the goods would taste their best.

The Food Standards Agency described the ‘best before’ date as being about “quality not safety”, indicating a time after which products might be past their best. It is a rough guide, with all such dates being no more scientific than an estimate.

However, shoppers who were uncertain as to what ‘best before’ meant were throwing perfectly edible produce away, increasing wastage. The National Federation of Women’s Institutes (NFWI), conducting a survey into the causes of waste, found that less than half of those polled understood the ‘best before’ date. In contrast, more than 70% correctly identified the meaning of a ‘use by’ date.

Mark Little, head of food waste at Tesco, said: “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 move is aimed at significantly reducing food waste, and no doubt other supermarkets will be watching closely to assess the impact of the move.

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