Co-op to sell food past its ‘best before’ date in bid to cut waste

Co-op to sell food past its ‘best before’ date in bid to cut waste

It is about time that something was done to cut the food waste in this country and a big hands up to the CO-OP people great move. The labels are designed to be confusing after all because us the consumers buy more often than needed as we are unsure what the labels really mean.

Personally on fresh produce I go with the look and the smell and not any labels on the product. Tomatoes for example as long as they are firm they are good for salads and fresh dishes, once the tomato starts to go soft and even if it has started to split at the top I discard and mould spices and then use them to make sauces for pasta.

So do not be led by labels but of course be wise and if you are ever unsure about a product then throw it away, hopefully the explanations below will clear things up a little.

A major retailer has become the first to start selling food that is past its “best before” date in a drive to reduce food waste.

From this week, the East of England Co-op – the biggest independent retailer in East Anglia – will sell tinned goods and dried food such as pasta, crisps and rice for a nominal 10p once they reach their best-before date. The offer will not apply to fresh and perishable foods, however, which carry a “use by” date indicating when a product is safe to eat.

The move by the retailer, which is independent of the Co-operative Group, follows a three-month trial in 14 stores that found that the 10p items generally sold within hours of being reduced.


‘Best by’ or ‘best before’ date labels only refer to when food is at its best and tend to be used for quality control by retailers. For this reason it is perfectly safe to sell food at or after its ‘best before’ date.

‘Use by’ labels are more important as they indicate when a product is safe to eat, protecting consumers from potentially dangerous bacteria that could be in food after that date.

Simplification of labelling is underway through new guidance from the Government’s waste advisory body Wrap, the Food Standards Agency and Defra, which advocates the use of only one date on a pack in order to reduce consumer confusion.

‘Display until’ labels have been phased out and food manufacturers are advised to select a ‘use by’ date only when there is a food safety reason – otherwise they should use a ‘best before’ date.

Despite concerted efforts to reduce food waste through the entire supply chain, the government’s waste advisory body, Wrap, says £13bn-worth of edible food is thrown out in Britain every year.

The Food Standards Agency advises that products past their best-before date are safe to eat but may not be at the optimum quality intended by the producer. The products will remain on sale for a month past their best-before date.



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