UK Tesco supermarkets to drop `confusing´ best-before labels on fruit and veg to cut waste

Posted by Jack Cain on 28th May 2018

Packaged fruit and vegetables from Tesco Express in Russell Square, central London. Supermarkets are being urged to cut out excessive packaging as part of a campaign launched by the Women's Institute today.

British based Tesco supermarket group 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.

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.”

Nearly 70 Tesco lines of products including apples, potatoes, tomatoes and lemons, will be included in the scheme.

In a 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.

Use-by labels are used where there is a safety risk if the product is eaten past this date.


Australian position

Woolworths is believed to be reviewing its ‘Best Before’ labelling in Australia.

It is understood that Australians currently throw out 20 million tonnes of food a year, and that the ‘Best Before’ date is a significant catalyst.

The fact that many fresh fruit and vegetables are fully visible in the shop and are physically able to be inspected before purchase or that lower prices are often indicative of an impending Best Before date means that such date is not critically important.

By contrast the more important date is the Use By (or consume by) date.

A food product cannot be sold after its Use By expiry date. And nor should it be consumed after the latter date.