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High street favourite Marks & Spencer have announced they are going to remove “best before” dates from 300 different fruit and vegetable items in their stores. This is in a bid to cut food waste. The change has now been in operation for a few weeks now.
The supermarket chain has suggested this new measure will impact 85% of the supermarket’s fresh produce and relies on the judgement of customers to determine whether fresh fruit and vegetables are still fine to consume.
“Best before” dates tend to focus on the look and aesthetic of the food. “Use by” dates, however, indicate a safety risk if ignored. Thus, best before dates being phased out will not determine the safety of the food.
But M&S are not the first supermarket to make a decision such as this. Tesco announced the end of best before dates on their own-brand fresh produced in 2018. Lidl and Morrison’s have also ditched these dates in an attempt to cut food waste.
Morrison’s have even suggested customers use a “sniff test” to determine whether food is safe to eat or drink. In particular, they have suggested customers sniff cow’s milk to determine whether it is still okay to drink, even if it is past the date on the packaging.
Just this week, Waitrose announced a similar move. Almost 500 fresh items of produce will have the best before labels removed. The supermarket are urging customers to use their own initiative and judgement.
Experts at Waste & Resources Action Programme (Wrap) said “best before” dates on fruit and vegetables are unnecessary and contribute to climate change. According to Wrap, potatoes are the most wasted food in the UK, followed by bread and milk.
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