Waitrose to remove Best Before dates on nearly 500 products from September

From September, Waitrose will remove best before dates on nearly 500 fresh products including root vegetables, fruits such as grapes, citrus, apples as well as indoor plants. The removal of best before dates is designed to reduce the volume of food waste occurring in UK households by inviting customers to use their own judgement. 

Marija Rompani, director of sustainability & ethics, John Lewis Partnership, comments: “Food waste continues to be a major issue and in the UK alone 70% of all food wasted is by people in their own homes. UK households throw away 4.5 millions tonnes of edible food every year, meaning that all the energy and resources used in food production is wasted.  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.  By using up existing fresh food in our homes, we can also save on our weekly household food shop, which is becoming an increasingly pressing concern for many.”

“The objective builds on our existing commitment to help our customers reduce their food waste by 2030.  By working with WRAP to bring this initiative to life, we’re delighted to help our customers play their own role in tackling this global issue.” 

In the UK, best before dates are designed to showcase food quality for customers, rather than safety i.e. food is at its best before this date, however it should still be OK to eat after this date has passed. Customers are encouraged to use their judgement to check food quality before consuming. ‘Use by’ dates will still be in place across products for safety.  Eating food after its ‘use by’ date (‘unless it has been frozen on or before its use by date) could result in food poisoning. 

Catherine David, director of collaboration and change at WRAP, says: “Wasting food feeds climate change and it costs people money. 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. We are absolutely delighted by this move from Waitrose which will help stop good food ending up in the bin. We estimate that removing dates on fresh fruit and veg could save the equivalent of 7 million shopping baskets of food from the bin, which is huge! There is loads more that we can do to tackle food waste together – for fresh produce it’s also really important to store it in the fridge, and knock the temperature down to below 5°C. WRAP found that apples last more than two months longer when refrigerated, and broccoli two weeks longer. Love Food Hate Waste can help with ways to avoid food waste, save money and fight climate change.”

Packaged fresh products which will be removing best before dates include:

  • Lettuce
  • Cucumber
  • Peppers
  • Potted herbs
  • Salad Onions
  • Tomatoes
  • Mushrooms
  • Celery
  • Potatoes
  • Root vegetables
  • Brassica vegetables
  • Leeks
  • Melons
  • Pineapples
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Citrus – Oranges, Lemons, Limes
  • Plums
  • Grapes
  • Exotic fruits 
  • Indoor & outdoor plants

Top tips to reduce food waste

Plan your meals

Making a plan not only makes life easier, it saves money and helps use everything up. When you plan your meals, think about how one meal will feed into the next and how your store-cupboard and freezer can reinvigorate leftovers. 

Make a list 

Before you go shopping, make a shopping list and stick to it. This stops you buying things you don’t need (which often end up in the bin). Take a photo of your fridge to remind you what you already have as you wander around the aisles.

Don’t shop on an empty stomach

If you’re hungry you’re more likely to impulse-buy treats that you don’t need (and that could end up in the bin).

Stock the store-cupboard

Assemble a store-cupboard of spices, herbs, cans and carbs to help you turn today’s leftovers into tomorrow’s lunch

Make leaves last

Rocket or other dark green leaves can be frozen from fresh and added to sauces and stir-fries and wilted, just as you would use spinach.

Freeze cheese

Cut it into small portions or grate some into a container before freezing, ready to top lasagnes and other tray bakes.

For more top tips, visit  https://www.waitrose.com/ecom/content/inspiration/at-home-with-us/more-stories/reduce-food-waste 

For further information about Waitrose plans to tackle food waste, please visit https://www.waitrose.com/ecom/content/about-us/sustainability/food-waste