Tesco to remove ‘best before’ dates off selected fruit and vegetable lines to help cut down on food waste

Tesco is to remove ‘Best Before’ consumption guidance dates off nearly 70 fruit and vegetable lines in its latest move to help reduce food waste.

The move is being made to help prevent perfectly edible food from being thrown away.

It follows a recent campaign by the National Federation of Women’s Institutes (NFWI) into causes of food waste which found that less than half of respondents understood the meaning of ‘Best Before’ dates.

However, more than 70 per cent of people polled by NFWI correctly identified the meaning of ‘Use By’ labels which have to be put on all foods where there is a safety risk if they are eaten after that date.

‘Best Before’ labels are put on foods by retailers as a quality indication to show that although they are no longer at their best they are still good to eat.

Tesco Head of Food Waste Mark Little 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.”

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.”

David Moon, Head of Business Collaboration at WRAP said:

“Through the Courtauld Commitment 2025, WRAP is working with the food & drink sector to review all the evidence on date labelling for fresh produce and agree best practice. 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.”

The fruit and vegetables include popular lines such as apples, potatoes, tomatoes, lemons and other citrus fruit and onions.


Note to editors

Tesco is proud of its action on tackling food waste. Other recent food waste initiatives by Tesco include:

  • Perfectly Imperfect

In March 2016 Tesco launched its ‘Perfectly Imperfect’ range of wonky fruit and vegetables – using produce that falls outside of our specifications to offer to customers at lower prices. The range, which includes apples, pears, potatoes, parsnips, cucumbers, courgettes, strawberries and frozen mixed berries, benefits suppliers and has proved exceptionally popular with customers.

  • Crop flushes

In spite of our advanced forecasting and ordering systems, at certain times of the year we have to manage crop flushes, or ‘bumper crops’. Last summer there was an unexpected bumper crop of strawberries and we worked with our suppliers to make sure none went to waste by selling them at market-leading prices in kilo boxes.

  • Community Food Connection

Surplus food safe for humans is offered to local charities and community groups through Community Food Connection. In total we donated 7,975 tonnes of food (19 million meals) to almost 7,000 charities from our stores and distribution centres. Food not taken by charities is offered to colleagues through our colleague shops now in all stores.

  •  In 2013 Tesco removed ‘Display Until’ and moved to a single date code (either ‘Best Before’ or ‘Use By’) across fresh produce, meat and dairy.


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