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Crackdown on food waste is welcomed by boss of Co-op

PUBLISHED: 12:22 23 May 2018 | UPDATED: 12:37 23 May 2018

Roger Grosvenor, East of England Co-op joint chief executive. Picture: ASHLEY PICKERING/ANGLIA PICTURE AGENCY

Roger Grosvenor, East of England Co-op joint chief executive. Picture: ASHLEY PICKERING/ANGLIA PICTURE AGENCY

Anglia Picture Agency

The boss of an East Anglian retail chain has hailed Tesco’s new food waste initiative, with similar goals to its own, as a positive step.

Tesco is to remove best before date labels from nearly all its own-brand fruit and vegetables in a bid to cut food waste.

The supermarket giant says shoppers often find themselves “confused” by the difference between best-before and use-by dates – meaning perfectly edible food is often thrown away.

The East of England Co-op launched The Co-op Guide to Dating in December 2017, taking the industry by storm by selling products such as tinned goods and packets for a nominal 10p for up to a month past their best before date. Typically, most are sold within days or even hours of being reduced.

It became the UK’s first major food store to sell produce beyond its best before’ date as part of the drive to drastically reduce food waste.

Mark Little, Tesco’s head of food waste, said: “We know some customers may be confused by the difference between ‘best-before’ and ‘use-by’ dates on food and this can lead to perfectly edible items being thrown away before they need to be discarded.

“We have made this change to fruit and vegetable packaging as they are among the most wasted foods. Many customers have told us that they assess their fruit and vegetables by the look of the product rather than the best before date code on the packaging.”

Roger Grosvenor, joint chief executive for the East of England Co-op, said: “This is a really positive step forward, and it’s great to see new initiatives being introduced by retailers to tackle food waste.

“Our customers have completely embraced our own scheme, helping us save thousands of products from being unnecessarily wasted.

“It has been so successful, we’ve now begun selling fresh produce including, fruit, vegetables and bread, for up to two days past its Best Before date and cake for up to seven days, all for 10p.”

In a recent poll by the National Federation of Women’s Institutes, less than half of people asked knew the meaning of best 
before, which indicates food might not be at its optimum quality after this date, but is still safe to eat.

Use by labels are used where there is a safety risk if the product is eaten past this date.

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