UK – In a bid to tackle food waste, UK’s leading supermarket Tesco will be changing ‘Use By’ to ‘Best Before’ dates on more than 30 yogurt lines.

Tesco believes that by minimizing the waste of “perfectly edible food,” customers will be able to use their own judgment on whether or not to eat a product.

“We know some shoppers may be unclear about the difference between ‘Use By’ and ‘Best Before’ dates on food and this can lead to perfectly edible items being thrown away unnecessarily.

“We have made the decision to remove ‘Use By’ dates on yogurts where it is safe to do so, after extensive testing which reveals that the acidity of the product acts as a natural preservative. However consumers should always use their judgement to determine if the quality is acceptable,” Amy Walker, Tesco’s Lead Technical Manager for Dairy said when commenting on the company-wide decision.

Waste and Resources Action Programme (commonly known as WRAP), a nonprofit dedicated to preventing food waste, estimates that UK customers lose 54,000 tonnes of yogurt annually, or 9% of their purchases.

Furthermore, according to WRAP, 70% of home pack waste is a result of expired products, with half of the yogurts that are thrown away being in unopened packages.

When it comes to date labeling, the mega-retailer claims it prefers to “keep things simple” and just includes the dates “Use By” and “Best Before” on its packaging.

Retailers mark items with “Best Before” dates as a quality guarantee that they are still safe to consume even though they may not be at their peak.

When a product must be consumed before the date for safety concerns, “Use By” dates are used. ‘Use By’ products need to be consumed or frozen by midnight on that date.

Also commenting on the food waste reduction initiative, Catherine David, Director of Collaboration & Change at WRAP said: “For yogurts, applying a ‘Best before’ date rather than a ‘Use by’ date means that people can use their judgement to eat beyond that date, giving people longer to use what they buy.

“WRAP welcomes this change from our partner, Tesco, which will help reduce food waste in our homes. Wasting food feeds climate change and costs us money – with the average family spending over £700 a year on good food which ends up in the bin.”

Walker stated that the lines affected constitute a significant proportion of the supermarket’s own brand yoghurts hence they hope to phase the change between now and the end of June.

In 2018, Tesco led the way for high-street supermarkets when it got rid of best-before dates on more than 100 fresh food products.

Last year, other UK supermarkets such as Waitrose, Marks & Spencer, and Morrisons joined the waste reduction efforts.

Waitrose scrapped off best-before dates from nearly 500 fresh food products. Marks & Spencer axed best-before dates on more than 300 fruit and vegetable products after a successful trial.

Morrisons also removed use-by dates on milk and encouraged consumers to use a “sniff test” instead to determine if it is OK to consume, a move the FSA cautioned against.

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