Tesco has removed ‘best before’ dates from some of its fruit and vegetable lines in a bid to reduce food waste.
Guidance has been removed from almost 70 lines including apples, potatoes, tomatoes, onions, lemons and other citrus fruits.
Tesco argues that many of these foods are “perfectly edible” and that the best before dates encourage wastage.
Mark Little, head of food waste at Tesco, explains: “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.
“We have made this change to fruit and vegetable packaging as they are among the most wasted foods.
“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.”
Best before or Use By?
A recent campaign by the National Federation of Women’s Institutes (NFWI) looked at the causes of food waste and found fewer than half of the people it polled understood what ‘best before’ dates actually meant. These dates aim to indicate the quality and freshness of food, but if a product is past this date it does not mean it is no longer fit for consumption.
Meanwhile, 70% of people the NFWI polled correctly understood that the ‘use by’ date label meant that consumption of the food after the stated date presented a health risk.
The Food Standards Agency states that “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.”