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“Best before” labels are past their sell-by date, says Tesco

Robin Bowman

Robin Bowman
May 22, 2018


Tesco will remove ‘best before’ date labels from many fresh products, it has announced.

Some product lines will be affected, all pre-packaged. The supermarket says the move is to counter the billions of pounds worth of “perfectly edible food” being thrown away.

Items include apples, potatoes, tomatoes, lemons, other citrus fruits and lemons.

‘Use by’, ‘best before’ – what’s the difference?

‘Best before’ labels do not indicate that you should eat the product before the date shown. Instead, they indicate when the product might start to decay.

Alternatively, ‘Use by’ dates do indicate when you should consume a product by and it is often unsafe to exceed the date.

 “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," said Mark Little, Tesco's head of food waste.

He added that fruit and vegetables were among the food most often binned by consumers, although many are ignoring "best before" dates already.

"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," he added.

Tesco said that removing the labels would encourage customers to make their own decisions about the products’ freshness.

The supermarket said that although customers would no longer be able to differentiate between bags of produce to determine how fresh they were at purchase, there were "rigorous stock rotation procedures in place" to ensure older items did not remain on shelves.

Last year, the East of England Co-op, started selling dried and canned products that are beyond their best-before dates for super-low prices 

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