Up to 70 lines will have the date label removed from them, including apples, potatoes, tomatoes lemons and onions.
The move follows a recent campaign by the National Federation of Women’s Institutes (NFWI) into the causes of food waste, which found that less than half of people asked understood the meaning of best-before dates.
Tesco head of food waste Mark Little said the change to fruit and vegetable packaging was made because they were among the most wasted foods.
‘Confused by the difference’
“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 Little.
“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.”
Food waste charity the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) said the change by Tesco would provide a good opportunity to learn about the customer response to the removal of best-before labels and hoped the supermarket would share its findings.
‘Clarity of storage advice on pack’
WRAP’s head of business collaboration David Moon added: “With all fresh produce, appropriate storage, including use of the refrigerator, is essential in giving the customer more time to use their food, so clarity of storage advice on pack and in-store will be vital.”
Chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee (EFRA) Neil Parish welcomed Tesco’s initiative, saying it was something the committee had called for last year.
“The EFRA Committee called for the removal of best-before dates from fresh produce in its report into Food Waste in England, published in 2017, so we welcome today’s news that Tesco will be doing just that,” said Parish.
“It’s time for all supermarkets to follow suit and remove these unnecessary markers, and begin to reduce the UK’s mountains of food waste”.
Meanwhile, the Institute of Food Science & Technology has released a new fact sheet on date labelling of pre-packaged food.