Tesco removes 'best before' date on fruit and veg

22 May 2018

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.”


In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Good idea - I bought some tomatoes in a packet the other week and they were rotten and going off when I got home. Not that I could see that in the packet!

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

That's fine but we have just had a delivery from Tesco of a bag of carrots that is wet and slimy inside. Some of the carrots have soft patches on them. They will have to keep a good eye on stock rotation. It would be better to do away with the stupid practice of washing the vegetables to death and then packing them in plastic bags. Bulk bag on counter and paper bag to take away please.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

if people are too stupid to know the difference between best before and use by - which are both very clear what the meaning is , then that should be their look out not an excuse to foist gone off stuff onto sensible people

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

This is a disgrace , just an excuse for Tesco to sell us gone off fruit and veg at full price

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

It's best to inspect each pack before buying, if you find any soft produce in a pack squash it or tear pack open so they will have to take off sale, if say a bad orange in a pack of 5 why don't they remove the bad on and sell other 4 on reduced counter instead of throwing all 5 in skip, this is a con so they can leave produce on display for longer period before reducing or dumping, the customers will carry the loss through poor products. I have often found and sometimes bought fruit and veg that is rotting from Tesco, Morrisons, Asda, Lidl and Aldi. I would like a return to loose unpackaged fruit and veg so we can select our own like it was years ago and still is in many small fruit and veg shops, beware of dodgy market traders who have a lovely display of perfect produce but bag up the poorer stuff from the back. We must all do all we can to expose poor quality produce in any way we can. Any food dumped in a skip should be recorded in a log book for un anounced inspectors to check entries are correct and each iten should be charged 25% waste tax based on original price, they will then offer it for coppers rather than pay the tax, this gives the poor a chance to salvage these items if they wish. They used to do these things, charities and food bank refuse all such fresh food and dented cans, they only like handing out best top brands while we go out and buy budget brands, it doesn't make sense.

Add new comment