In the war on waste, a UK supermarket has ditched best before dates on products. Waitrose, one of the UK’s leading retailers, has taken 500 best before dates off fresh food products.
With over half the food we buy being thrown away, removing best before dates is an effective tool to tackle waste.
From September 2022 items including apples, potatoes and carrots will be free of labels, with customers expected to use their own judgement.
Marija Rompani, director of sustainability and ethics at the John Lewis Partnership which owns Waitrose, says,
“By removing best before dates from our products, we want our customers to use their own judgement to decide whether a product is good to eat or not, which in turn, will increase its chances of being eaten and not becoming waste.”
Food waste is a huge problem, particularly in the western world. According to food redistribution non-profit Ozharvest one third of all food is wasted, which is 1.3 billion tonnes of food- an area equivalent to the size of China.
“Best before dates on fruit and veg are unnecessary and create food waste because they get in the way of people using their judgement when food is still good to eat,” says Catherine David from WRAP. David estimates that removing best before dates could save 7 million shopping baskets worth of food in a year.
Cutting out food waste would also have a huge impact on the climate. Food waste is responsible for 25 percent of water consumption. Creating excess food doesn’t just use up precious water supplies, farming excess food creates extra emissions due to the energy that goes into farming. Luckily, retailers are beginning to act more environmentally responsible.
US supermarkets Kroger, Walmart and Ahold Delhaize have all committed to having zero food waste by 2025. In Australia, global supermarket chain Aldi have committed to zero-waste, with a goal to send no food to landfill by 2023.