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Ed Leahy

BY ED LEAHY

Tesco to bin 'Best Before' dates

The retailer cited confusion over the label's meaning possibly causing unnecessary food waste as behind the move

Tesco to bin 'Best Before' dates

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Tesco is ditching ‘Best Before’ dates on nearly 70 fruit and vegetable labels in a further bid to tackle food waste.

Britain’s biggest retailer revealed customer confusion over the meaning of ‘Best Before’ and ‘Use By’ dates had prompted the move, following a survey suggesting only half of shoppers understood the ‘Best Before’ tag.

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

The National Federation of Women’s Institutes report showed 50 per cent of respondents correctly identified the meaning of ‘Best Before’ while more than 70 per cent of people polled by NFWI understood the meaning of ‘Use By’ labels.

‘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.”

David Moon, head of business collaboration at campaign group WRAP said he hoped Tesco would go on to share the results of their findings.

“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.”

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