// M&S is ditching best before dates on fruit and vegetables from this week
// Shoppers will be encouraged to use their own judgement to determine the freshness of produce rather than using pre-determined dates
M&S is ditching best before dates from a range of fresh produce to help reduce food waste, both in-store and in consumers’ homes.
Best before dates will be removed from over 300 fruit and vegetable products – 85% of M&S’ produce offer – including apples, potatoes and broccoli.
Dates will be replaced with a new code which M&S store staff will use to ensure freshness and quality is maintained.
The change, which will roll out to all M&S UK stores from this week, is designed to encourage customers to throw away less edible food at home by using their judgement rather than pre-set dates.
Earlier this year, Morrisons scrapped best before dates on milk, encouraging shoppers to use the “sniff test” instead.
Research from WRAP shows that an estimated 6.6 million tonnes of food is thrown away by UK households a year.
M&S has pledged to halve food waste by 2030 as part of its Plan A sustainability roadmap.
READ MORE: M&S Food: Who is new boss Alex Freudmann?
Scrapping best before dates is just one step the retailer is making to achieve this ambition. It has also partnered with Neighbourly since 2015, and has donated more than 44million meals to the food distribution platform.
It also creates frozen garlic bread from unsold bakery products each day and encourages customers to reduce their own food waste through its Love Your Leftovers recipes.
M&S’ latest Family Matters Index showed that reducing food waste is hugely important to families with 72% of those surveyed taking steps to reduce household waste.
M&S director of food technology Andrew Clappen said: “We’re determined to tackle food waste – our teams and suppliers work hard to deliver fresh, delicious, responsibly sourced produce at great value and we need to do all we can to make sure none of it gets thrown away.
“To do that, we need to be innovative and ambitious – removing best before dates where safe to do so, trialling new ways to sell our products and galvanising our customers to get creative with leftovers and embrace change.”
“Our promise as we aim for our target of halving food waste is to keep searching for solutions while we maintain the standards and value our customers expect.”
WRAP director of collaboration and change Catherine David added: “Removing dates on fresh fruit and veg can save the equivalent of 7 million shopping baskets of food being binned in our homes.
“We urge more supermarkets to get ahead on food waste by axing date labels from fresh produce, allowing people to use their own judgement.”
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