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Waste: British supermarket removes expiration date on 500 products – Science et Avenir

On Monday, British supermarkets Waitrose announced they were canceling recommended consumption dates for nearly 500 products in order not to discourage their customers from consuming products that are still good and thus combat food waste.

Starting September, Waitrose will remove the “best before” label — the estimated date after which a product is safe to eat — on nearly 500 fresh products, especially fruits and vegetables under packaging, the company said in a statement.

The measure “aims to reduce food waste in British households by asking shoppers to exercise discretion” when deciding whether a product is edible, the high-end supermarket chain added.

“Food waste continues to be a major problem” and British households “throw away 4.5 million tons of edible food every year,” said Maria Rompani, director of sustainability for the John Lewis department store group, Waitrose’s parent company.

Best before is mainly related to the taste or nutritional properties of the product and corresponds to the “minimum shelf life” in France.

On the other hand, the “use before” (use before) mention that appears on perishable foods is a mandatory mention, and failure to comply with it poses a health risk, as does the cross-Channel expiration date.

“We estimate that removing dates from fresh fruits and vegetables could save the equivalent of 7 million baskets of groceries from the bin,” Waitrose says.

The company is following in the footsteps of other British brands such as industry giant Tesco, which removed suggested consumption dates for 100 products from 2018, or more recently Marks and Spencer, which did the same for 300 references.

Morrisons, another supermarket chain, announced in January that it was removing its deprecated date and “best before” dates on 90% of its own brand milk, encouraging its customers to sniff the contents of a bottle to know it’s always good.

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