British supermarkets Waitrose announced on Monday that they were withdrawing the best before dates on nearly 500 products, to avoid discouraging their customers from consuming foods that are still good and thus fight against the food waste.
From September Waitrose will remove the words “best before”, an indicative date beyond which the consumption of a product remains safeon nearly 500 fresh products, in particular packaged fruits and vegetables, the company announced in a press release.
4.5 million tons of edible food in the trash
This measure “aims to reduce the volume of food waste in British households by asking customers to use their judgment” when deciding whether a product is still edible, added this high-end supermarket chain.
“Food waste is still a major problem” and British households “throw away 4.5 million tonnes of edible food every year,” says Marija Rompani, sustainability director of the John Lewis department store group, parent company of Waitrose.
7 million food baskets potentially saved
The “best before” indicator is essentially linked to the taste or nutritional quality of a product, and corresponds to the “minimum durability date” in France.
On the other hand, the mention “use by” (consume before), which appears on perishable products, is an imperative mention and its non-respect presents health risks, in the same way as the expiry date across the Channel. “We estimate that removing dates on fresh fruit and vegetables could save the equivalent of 7 million baskets of food from the bin,” according to Waitrose.
The company is following in the footsteps of other British brands, such as the sector giant Tesco, which had removed the recommended consumption dates on a hundred products from 2018, or more recently. Marks and Spencer who had done the same on 300 references.
Morrisons, another supermarket chain, announced in January the removal not of the recommended date but of the best before date on 90% of its private label milk, encouraging its customers to smell the contents of the bottle to know s is always good.