Co-op becomes first retailer to sell produce past 'Best Before' date

Co-op becomes first retailer to sell produce past 'Best Before' date

Co-op becomes first retailer to sell produce past 'Best Before' date

A major retailer has become the first to start selling food that is past its "best before" date in a drive to reduce food waste.

The supermarket chain said its 125 stores in East Anglia will sell tin foods and dried products such as crisps, rice and pasta for just 10p once they are past their sell-by date.

The Food Standards Agency estimates the United Kingdom throws away millions of tonnes of food every year, the majority of which could have been eaten.

The company chose to launch the initiative following a successful three-month trial in 14 of its branches, where 10p items were sold out very quickly, now it aims to help reduce the situation by offering it in many more stores.

East of England Co-op's joint chief executive Roger Grosvenor told the Grocer that the campaign would help customers save money and reduce the retailer's environmental impact.

"This is not a money-making exercise", Grosvenor went on to explain, "but a sensible move to reduce food waste and keep edible food in the food chain".

East of England Co-op estimates the initiative will prevent at least 50,000 products a year being thrown away.

Most food items beyond their best before will be able to be sold, but products with "use by" dates will not be included as they should not be eaten after the dates indicated.

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Environment minister, Thérèse Coffey, commented at the time: "We know that confusing labels can contribute to food waste by suggesting that edible items need to be thrown away sooner than is necessary".

Last week, WRAP published new guidance for food labelling emphasising that "Use By" dates should only be used on foods that carry a risk of becoming unsafe in a short period of time and that all others should only carry "Best Before" dates as foods can be safely redistributed and consumed after the date.

The retailer planned to retain heavily-discounted products on sale for one month past their "Best Before" date.

The FSA said products past their best before date were safe to consume but may not be at the optimum quality intended by the producer.

The East of England Co-op has now also instigated a new Reduced to Clear policy, offering more significant discounts earlier in the day on products nearing their "use by" dates to further help reduce waste.

Otherwise, it said firms should only have a "Best Before" date and leave it up to the consumer to decide whether a product is good to eat. Foods will be safe to eat after the "best before" date, but may not be at their best.

Taking this simple step will add three days to the life of many foods, according to the official food waste advisors, WRAP. A third of all food produced in the world goes to waste and there is a huge amount of carbon and greenhouse gas emissions that goes into producing and transporting that food.

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