British supermarkets Waitrose announced on Monday it was withdrawing recommended expiration dates for nearly 500 products, to avoid discouraging its customers from consuming foods that are still good and thus combating food waste.
As of September, Waitrose will remove “best before” labels, an indicative date after which it remains safe to eat a product, on nearly 500 fresh produce, especially packaged fruits and vegetables, the company said in a statement.
The high-end supermarket chain added that the measure “aims to reduce the volume of food waste in homes in the UK by requiring customers to judge them” when deciding whether a product is still edible.
“Food waste remains a huge problem,” said Marija Rompany, director of sustainability at John Lewis Department Stores, the parent company of Waitrose, and British households “throw out 4.5 million tons of edible food every year.”
The “best before” index is mainly related to the taste or nutritional quality of the product, and corresponds to the “minimum durability date” in France.
On the other hand, the reference to “use by” (consumed before), which appears on perishable products, is an imperative and its non-compliance presents health risks, in the same way as the expiration date across the channel.
According to Waitrose, “We estimate that removing dates over fresh fruit and vegetables could save the equivalent of 7 million food baskets out of the trash.”
The company is following in the footsteps of other British brands, such as sector giant Tesco, which removed recommended consumption dates on 100 products from 2018, or more recently Marks and Spencer who did the same with 300 references.
Morrisons, another supermarket chain, announced in January it was removing the not-recommended but expiration date on 90% of its brand-name milk, encouraging its customers to smell the contents of the bottle to see if It was still good.
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