Co-operative first to sell food past its 'best before' date

Shoppers at 125 Co Op supermarkets will be able to pick up food past its “best before” date for 10p

Shoppers at 125 Co Op supermarkets will be able to pick up food past its “best before” date for 10p

Shoppers at East of England Co-Op stores in East Anglia will be able to buy tinned goods and dried food for as little as 10p, as part of a campaign to encourage people to waste less food.

East of England's Co-op has become the first major retailer to sell food beyond its "best before" dates in a bid to crack down on food waste. "This is not a money making exercise, but a sensible move to reduce food waste and keep edible food in the food chain", Grosvenor continued. These items should not be eaten after the "Use By" date as they may pose a health risk.

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". After this date it will still be safe to consume items; they just might not be at their best. "By selling perfectly edible food we can save 50,000-plus items every year which would otherwise have gone to waste". "We have chose to start selling food past the Best Before date to help reduce the levels of waste that our stores have".

Roger Grosvenor, East of England Co-op's joint chief executive, said the 10p items were sold within hours of being reduced.

The offer will not apply to perishable foods such as meat and fresh fruit and vegetables, which can be unsafe to eat when they surpass their "use by" date.

Food being sold past its best before date will not remain on sale any longer than one month, under Food Standard Agency guidelines.

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.

A spokesperson from WRAP told the Telegraph: "It is perfectly safe to sell food at or after its best before date".

Instead, the East of England Co-op collects donations of non-perishable food and toiletries within date in all its stores. Thanks to the generosity of Co-op customers, donations for more than 80,000 meals were collected a year ago and donated to 22 food banks across the East Anglia. But according to food safety experts, most spoiled foods, though unpalatable, aren't particularly hazardous. 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. Just last week, FoodNavigator-USA reported that United Kingdom food regulators issued new voluntary guidance on food labeling specifically aimed at reducing unnecessary waste.

Whether this idea works depends entirely on consumers, many of whom are used to observing best before dates.

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