Tesco is to remove “best-before” labels from nearly all its own-brand fruit and vegetables in a bid to cut food waste.
The supermarket giant says shoppers often find themselves “confused” by the difference between best-before and use-by dates – meaning perfectly edible food can often be thrown away.
In recent poll by the National Federation of Women’s Institutes (NFWI), less than half of people asked knew the meaning of “best before”, which indicates that food might not be at its optimum quality after this date, but is still safe to eat.
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 discardedMark Little, Tesco's head of food waste
Use-by labels are used where there is a safety risk if the product is eaten past this date.
According to waste reduction body Wrap, two million tonnes of food is wasted each year in UK homes due to it not being used in time, with a third of this waste blamed on how shoppers interpret date labels.
Mark Little, Tesco’s head of food waste, said: “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.”
David Moon, head of business collaboration at Wrap, added: “This change by Tesco provides a good opportunity to learn about the customer response, and we anticipate Tesco will share their findings.
“With all fresh produce, appropriate storage including use of the refrigerator is essential in giving the customer more time to use their food, so clarity of storage advice on pack and in-store will be vital.”
Nearly 70 Tesco lines, of products including apples, potatoes, tomatoes and lemons, will be included in the scheme.