UK – British retailer Waitrose, a portfolio company of John Lewis Partnership, has revealed plans to remove ‘best before’ dates on almost 500 fresh food products in a move to reduce food waste.

From September the supermarket will do away with the dates on packaged fruit and vegetables, leaving consumers to instead use their own judgement about when the fresh produce has gone off.

Among the products on which dates will be removed are lettuce, cucumbers and peppers.

Wrap estimates that removing ‘best before’ dates on fresh fruit and veg could save the equivalent of 7m baskets of food from being binned, with potatoes emerging as the most wasted food in the UK, according to the food waste organization.

‘Best before’ dates are designed to indicate the quality of food rather than its safety, whereas ‘use by’ dates are given for safety and could sometimes lead to food poisoning if ignored by the consumer.

Waitrose is the latest supermarket to make the move as supermarkets look for new ways to reduce food waste and reduce costs for shoppers and stores.

In July Marks & Spencer also got rid of ‘best before’ dates on over 300 fruit and veg products after a successful trial.

Meanwhile, Tesco started the trend among the major retailers when it did away with ‘best before’ dates on more than 100 fresh food products in 2018.

Marija Rompani, Director of Sustainability and Ethics at the John Lewis Partnership, which owns Waitrose, said: “UK households throw away 4.5 million tonnes of edible food every year, meaning that all the energy and resources used in food production are wasted.

“By removing ‘best before’ dates 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 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.”

Commenting on the move, editor-in-chief of, Laura Rettie said: “Waitrose removing best before dates is ultimately a positive move by the grocer for shoppers.

“The difference between a ‘best before’ and a ‘use by’ date can easily be mistaken, and good food often goes to waste, costing consumers money to replace perfectly good food.”

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