Co-op to sell food after 'best before' date to beat waste

05 December, 2017, 02:20 | Author: Terri Saunders
  • Produce one day past its best before date will be sold for 10p by East of England Co-op in bid to cut waste

The East of England Co-op, a completely separate entity to the national Co-Operative Group or Co-op Food, has announced that it will start selling products beyond their "Best Before" date in its 125 food stores across Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex. The waste and recycling advisory body, Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) said the supermarket's decision was a "bold move".

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.

For the record, the Daily Times reports that restrictions do exists on how long Best Before item can continue to be sold: Food Standard Agency guidelines state that the maximum a food should be sold past its Best Before date is one month; however, the paper also states that this food won't be accepted by food banks, making the Co-op's program potentially these items best chance for survival.

The company made a decision 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.

Roger Grosvenor, Joint Chief Executive at the East of England Co-op said: "During our trial we found our 10p items went within hours of being reduced, sometimes quicker".

"The vast majority of our customers understand they are fine to eat and appreciate the opportunity to make a significant saving on some of their favourite products", he said.

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"This is not a money making exercise, but a sensible move to reduce food waste and keep edible food in the food chain", added Grosvenor. "By selling perfectly edible food we can save 50,000-plus items every year which would otherwise have gone to waste". 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. The best-before date is not to be confused with the use-by date, which is used to label products with a shorter shelf life (including meat, dairy, and fresh produce), which may be harmful if eaten after the given date.

Rice, crisps, and pasta will be sold for as little as 10p following a successful trial.

It may spark similar or even wider initiatives by larger rivals, which aim to eliminate food waste entirely. Will they continue to eat by the rules? "It is mainly tinned and dried goods where eating past the Best Before date is still perfectly safe".

The 10p discounted food can not be donated to charities such as food banks as they now do not accept food after its "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.

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