'Best before' labels reach their use by date

Date: 08-Oct-18
Author: Liam Taylor

The 'best before' dates on fruit and vegetables are not an indication they are unsafe to eat. Image: Scott Warman © Liam Taylor

The 'best before' dates on fruit and vegetables are not an indication they are unsafe to eat. Image: Scott Warman

The UK’s largest supermarket is helping customers reduce their food waste by ditching potentially confusing ‘best before’ dates.

From the beginning of this week shoppers at Tesco will find 116 items of produce - including apples, oranges, cabbages and asparagus with the Tesco brand – stripped of their date labels. The supermarket chain hopes the move will prevent food from being thrown away while still edible, having earlier this year already removed guidance dates from about 70 fruit and vegetable lines.

Tesco made the move after carrying out research that found over two-thirds of people believed getting rid of ‘best before’ dates was a good idea, and more than half said removing the dates helped them keep perfectly good food for longer.

In the UK and Australia, the best before dates on fruit and vegetables are intended to indicate products are still safe to eat despite perhaps no longer being perfectly ripe. This contrasts to the compulsory ‘use by’ dates on foods that carry a safety risk if consumed after the date such as meat and dairy.

The Food Standards Code of Australia states: “You can still eat foods for a while after the best before date as they should be safe but they may have lost some quality.”

According to leading food rescue organisation, OzHarvest, Australians throw away about 20% of the food they purchase, resulting in over 5 million tonnes of food waste being sent to landfill every year.


Positive Action

  • Visit Love Food Hate Waste for some excellent tips on minimising your food waste and remember to never shop on an empty stomach!
  • Visit Recycling Near You to find out if your council offers a kerbside food scraps collection service or whether there is a community garden or compost near you.
  • If there is no food scrap recycling in your area, check out the ShareWaste app which connects people who wish to recycle their kitchen scraps with neighbours who are already composting, worm-farming or keep chickens.


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Positive Environment News has been compiled using publicly available information. Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes. 

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Liam                                              Taylor
Author: Liam Taylor

Liam is Planet Ark's Communications Coordinator. Prior to joining Planet Ark Liam spent his time studying global environmental issues, travelling Southeast Asia on the cheap and working for a sustainable property management company in Bali, Indonesia.

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