The U.K.’s leading supermarket chain, Tesco, has announced it will remove ‘Best Before’ guidance dates from nearly 70 fruit and vegetable lines.
It follows a recent survey which found that fewer than half of the respondents understood the meaning of ‘Best Before’.
However, the National Federation of Women’s Institutes (NFWI) study found that over 70% of people understood the term ‘Use By’, which has to be put on all foods where there is a safety risk if they are eaten after that date.
‘Best Before’ labels indicate quality, showing that although they are not at their best, they are still safe to eat.
“Some customers may be confused by the difference and this can lead to perfectly edible items being thrown away before they need to be discarded,” said Mark Little, Tesco’s head of food waste.
“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 the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), said this change by Tesco provides a “good opportunity to learn about the customer response.”
“We anticipate Tesco will share their findings,” he said.
“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 lines such as apples, potatoes, tomatoes, lemons and other citrus fruit.