Asda scraps ‘best before’ dates from many fresh foods to help cut waste

Latest supermarket to reduce labelling says removal from nearly 250 products will also save customers money

Asda is to remove “best before” dates from almost 250 fresh fruit and vegetable products as it joins a movement among supermarkets to help customers cut waste and save money.

The supermarket will leave the notes off produce including citrus fruits, potatoes, cauliflowers and carrots across all its UK stores from 1 September.

It follows announcements from Marks & Spencer, which removed such warnings from 300 fruit and veg lines in July, and Waitrose, which earlier this month said it was removing them from 500 fresh food products.

The dates would be replaced by a new code that would be used by store staff to ensure quality and freshness, Asda said.

The retailer is also providing guidance online and on packaging to help customers store and prepare fresh food as well as tips on how to reduce waste.

Tesco was one of the first of the big UK supermarkets to take on the issue in 2018 when it scrapped potentially confusing “best before” dates from more than 100 items, while Co-op dropped them from its own-brand yoghurt in April.

In January, Morrisons announced plans to remove “use by” dates on milk and encourage consumers to use a “sniff test” instead to determine if it is OK to consume.

The charity Waste and Resources Action Programme (Wrap) has condemned “best before” dates on fruit and vegetables as unnecessary, arguing they contribute to the climate crisis by encouraging good food to be destroyed. Wrap figures suggest the average family throws away £60 worth of food and drink each month.

Asda’s head of technical, Andy Cockshaw, said: “Reducing food waste in our business and in customers’ homes is a priority and we are always looking at different ways to achieve this.

“We know for customers this has become more important than ever in the current climate as many families are struggling with the cost of living crisis and are looking to make savings wherever they can.”

Catherine David, the director of collaboration and change at Wrap, said: “We are delighted by this development from Asda to help tackle food waste in our homes.

“Our research has shown that date labels on fruit and veg are unnecessary – getting rid of them can prevent the equivalent of 7m shopping baskets’ worth from our household bins.

“The influence of no date label or the right date label on what we use and what we throw away is huge.

“More supermarkets need to get ahead on food waste by axing date labels from fresh produce, allowing people to use their own judgment.”

Guardian staff and agency

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