Why in England do they eliminate the deadline on fresh food and why we should too?
The initiative of the British supermarket chain Waitrose has decided to remove the date indicating by when it is preferable to consume packaged fruit and vegetables to reduce food waste.
Among the various sales strategies implemented by supermarkets to entice us to buy more, there are also some aimed at reducing food waste. Thus, after the shelves and refrigerated counters where it is possible to buy products close to expiry on the downside, there are also those who have decided to completely remove the date by which it is preferable to consume certain foods. This is the case of the Waitrose supermarket chain, one of the largest in the United Kingdom, which will be eliminating September as the expiration date for about 500 fresh products leaving the consumer the freedom to decide whether they are good or not.
The expiration date of packaged fruit and vegetables
Across the Channel, Waitrose is not the first group to move in this direction: earlier this month, British multinational Marks & Spencer removed the expiration date from over 300 packaged fruit and vegetables including lettuce, packaged salads, cucumbers, and peppers, after a successful test, as well as Tesco grocery stores, which got rid of the famous "Best before” On about 100 fresh products marketed under its own brand. Other efforts to reduce waste and the carbon footprint of food sales also include the UK's largest home milk delivery service, Milk & More, which has optimized its distribution system to use 500,000 bottles. less per year, after a sharp rise in glass prices.
According to the UK Government's Wrap Resource Action Program, removing the expiration date from packaged fruit and vegetables could save the equivalent of 7 million food baskets in the UK alone. Potatoes are the most wasted food in the country, followed by bread and milk, the Wrap data indicate. On the other hand, the removal of the expiration date from these and other fresh products would not affect their safety, as it is not a limit to be strictly respected but more than an indicative threshold, which in the case of fresh food stored properly it can be exceeded by even a few days and further exceeded for dry industrial products.
“British households throw away 4.5 million tonnes of edible food every year, which means all the energy and resources used in food production are wasted - said Marija Romani, director of sustainability and ethics at the John Lewis Partnership, owner of Waitrose -. By removing the expiration date from our products, we want our customers to use their own judgment to decide whether a product is good to eat or not which in turn will increase its chances of being consumed and not becoming a waste”.
Eliminating waste is clearly an important way forward to make our food system more sustainable, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect natural resources, while also helping us save money. Transformation in this direction requires collaboration between retailers and food brands, the adoption of good practices for how products are packaged, labeled, and priced, as well as correct information to help consumers find their way around between the different types of labeling and reduce domestic food waste.
The indication "to be consumed preferably by" on packaged fruit and vegetables "is not necessary and it creates waste because it limits people to use their own judgment contributing to the climate crisis” Underline from the Wrap, which highlights how its elimination also allows savings on weekly spending. A choice that, nowadays, given the many worries and uncertainties about the near future, not only we could but should all adopt, avoiding that so much good food ends up in the garbage.