Waitrose has announced a major change to hundreds of its fresh food products in a bid to combat food waste. 

The supermarket is set to scrap 'best before' dates on nearly 500 items from September.

The label will be axed from packaged fruit and vegetables to help encourage customers to use their own judgment about when food has gone off.

It is the latest grocery giant to announce similar efforts with major retailer Marks & Spencer revealing earlier this month that it was ditching “best before” dates for more than 300 fruit and vegetable products.

St Albans & Harpenden Review: Waitrose. Credit: PAWaitrose. Credit: PA

Waitrose scraps 'best before' dates on nearly 500 products

Waitrose also joins Tesco which led the way for the high street supermarkets when it got rid of the dates on more than 100 fresh food products back in 2018.

“UK households throw away 4.5 million tonnes of edible food every year, meaning that all the energy and resources used in food production is wasted," Marija Rompani, director of sustainability and ethics at John Lewis Partnership, which owns Waitrose, said.

“By removing best before dates from our products, we want our customers to use their own judgment 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.

“By using up existing fresh food in our homes, we can also save on our weekly household food shop, which is becoming an increasingly pressing concern for many.”

The major move is expected to eliminate millions of baskets worth of food waste by helping to prevent people from throwing away products that are still edible, the retailer claimed.

Waitrose explained that 'best before' dates are designed to show food quality rather than how safe it is to eat.

The term is different from 'use by' dates which are provided for consumer safety and could lead to food poisoning if ignored.

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Experts at Waste & Resources Action Programme (Wrap) said “best before” dates on fruit and vegetables are unnecessary and contribute to climate change.

Catherine David, director of collaboration and change at Wrap said: “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.

“We are absolutely delighted by this move from Waitrose which will help stop good food ending up in the bin.

“We estimate that removing dates on fresh fruit and veg could save the equivalent of seven million shopping baskets of food from the bin, which is huge.”