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‘Use your judgement’: M&S removing best before dates to help reduce food waste

Marks & Spencer (M&S) has announced its stores will be removing best before dates from hundreds of food labels this week, as part of its efforts to reduce food waste in the business and in people’s homes.

The changes to food labels will cover more than 300 fruit and vegetable products – 85% of M&S’ produce offering – including commonly wasted items such as apples, potatoes, and broccoli.

M&S will replace the best before dates with a new code, which the retailer said will be used by store staff to ensure freshness and quality is maintained.

The aim of M&S, and other retailers such as Morrisons and Co-op which have removed ‘Use By’ dates on some fresh products, is to encourage customers to throw away less edible food at home by using their own judgement.

Research from non-governmental organisation, Wrap, shows that an estimated 6.6 million tonnes of food is thrown away by UK households a year.

In addition to reducing the number of best before dates on products, M&S already works with Neighbourly to help redistribute millions of meals to charities. It is also encouraging consumers to think differently about their meals, including by running recipe guides such as ‘Love Your Leftovers’.

Andrew Clappen, director of food technology at M&S, 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.”

Catherine David, director of collaboration & change at non-government organisation Wrap, which has a strong focus on helping business reduce food waste, added: “We urge more supermarkets to get ahead on food waste by axing date labels from fresh produce, allowing people to use their own judgement.”

[Image credit: M&S]

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