Tesco is removing hundreds more ‘best before’ labels on fruit and veg

Getty

Tesco has confirmed it will remove best before labels on 116 additional products including apples, oranges, cabbages and asparagus. The move comes after the retailer scrapped the guidance dates from around 70 fruit and veg lines earlier this year in a bid to cut food waste.

In a statement, Tesco said it hopes to "prevent perfectly edible food from being thrown away". The supermarket added that it is now over 70% of the way towards its goal that no food that's safe for human consumption goes to waste from its UK stores and distribution centres.

Apples, potatoes, tomatoes, lemons and other citrus fruit and onions are among the items to have their labels changed.

'Best before' labels are put on a wide-range of foods as an indicator of quality. 'When the date is passed, it doesn't mean that the food will be harmful, but it might begin to lose its flavour and texture,' NHS guidelines state.

Related: 9 healthy foods that are secretly making you bloated 

They differ to 'use by' dates, which are found on foods that go off quickly, like fish, meat and ready-prepared salads. The NHS advises to avoid using use any food or drink after the end of the 'use by' label, 'even if it looks and smells fine'.

After research by the National Federation of Women’s Institutes found that less than half of respondents understood the meaning of 'best before' dates, Tesco hopes the changes to its packaging will prevent consumable food from going to waste.

'We know some customers may be confused by the difference between "best before" and "use by" dates on food and this can lead to perfectly edible items being thrown away before they need to be discarded,' Tesco Head of Food Waste Mark Little explains.

'We have made this change to fruit and vegetable packaging as they are among the most wasted foods. Many customers have told us that they assess their fruit and vegetables by the look of the product rather than the "best before" date code on the packaging.'

Anti-waste campaign organisation WRAP has estimated that changes to product labelling could prevent around 350,000 tonnes of avoidable food waste (with a value of around £1 billion a year). The group says that giving consumers longer to make use of the food they buy has the potential to radically reduce this figure.

A version of this article appeared on Women's Health UK.