Waitrose has become the latest UK supermarket to scrap best before dates on hundreds of products in an attempt to tackle food waste.
It will remove the dates from nearly 500 items of fresh food – including fruit and vegetables – from September.
Tesco and Marks & Spencer have also scrapped best before dates on some of their products.
Catherine David, director of collaboration and change at the charity, said: “Wasting food feeds climate change and it costs people money. Best before dates on fruit and veg are unnecessary and create food waste because they get in the way of people using their judgement when food is still good to eat.”
Use by labels are the dates until which perishable food can be cooked and consumed safely. Best before guidance, however, is for when the product should be consumed to get the best quality, taste and texture.
The Food Standards Agency says it is up to manufacturers to decide whether to apply a use by or best before date on their products. It will depend on factors such as how the food is made and how risky it is.
Marija Rompani, director of sustainability and ethics at the John Lewis Partnership, which owns Waitrose, said: “By removing best before dates from our products, we want our customers to use their own judgement 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.”
The products that Waitrose is dropping best before dates from include root vegetables, fruits such as grapes and apples, and indoor plants.
In July, Marks & Spencer said it would be taking best before dates off more than 300 fruit and vegetable items, while Tesco scrapped best before dates on more than 100 products in 2018.
In January this year, Morrisons said it would remove use by dates from 90% of its own-brand milk and encouraged customers to use a “sniff test” instead before throwing products away.
And in April, the Co-op said it announced plans to ditch use by dates on its own-brand yoghurt in favour of a best before date as guidance.