In an effort to cut food waste, Marks & Spencer has announced it is removing ‘best before’ labels from 300 varieties of fruit and vegetables in its stores.
The change, which is to be rolled out this week, will see ‘best before’ dates disappear from packaging and will rely on customers using their own judgement to determine whether these fruit and vegetable products are still good to eat.
Best before dates have come under fire over the last few years with their use, often merely a measure of aesthetics, contributing to huge amounts of waste from perfectly edible food. While ‘use by’ dates indicate a safety risk if ignored, ‘best before’ dates are simply a suggestion of when it’s ‘best’ to eat the product by.
This decision comes as part of M&S’ aim to halve food waste from its products by 2030 compared with 2018. It also wants to redistribute 100% of edible surplus food by 2025 in order to help contribute to the UK supermarket commitment to meet the United Nations goal of halving food waste by 2030.
Andrew Clappen, director of food technology at M&S, said the retailer needed to ‘do all we can to make sure none of it gets thrown away’, encouraging customers to ‘get creative with leftovers’.
Food waste is a huge issue in the UK and across the world. Food waste charity WRAP, reported that there is 170,000 tonnes of food waste in the fresh produce supply chain every year, in addition to 500,000 tonnes from hospitality and food service and 2.5 million tonnes of household food waste.
One of the most effective ways of reducing food waste is by removing date labels from fresh produce. After surveying five products, namely apples, potatoes, bananas, cucumbers and broccoli, WRAP found that removing date labels from just these five items could save 50,000 tonnes of waste in the home, every year. This is the equivalent of a staggering 240 million fruit and vegetable items from being wasted each year.
The move away from ‘best before’ labels could also help keep the cost of everyday essentials down as food prices have soared over the last year. Sounds like there could be winners all round; the environment, our wallets and our stock of fresh produce.
If all this talk of fresh produce has got you peckish, why not treat yourself and order from our guide to 18 of the best artisan grocery delivery companies.