This Supermarket Plans to Sell Food Past Its 'Best Before' Date

Gladys Abbott
December 5, 2017

So a United Kingdom grocery chain is taking a step being call a first for a major British retailer: The 125-location East of England Co-op will be selling foods past their "Best Before" date at a slashed price in an effort to cut waste.

The Co-operative will start selling the products, including a large range of items including tinned goods, such as fruit and beans, dried food such as pasta and rice and packet goods including crisps, confectionery and cereal, across 125 stores in the East of England for just 10p.

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.

Best before dates, on the other hand, indicate the quality of a product, rather than safety, and food being sold past its best before date will not remain on display for longer than a month.

The move by the retailer, which is independent of the Co-operative Group, follows a three-month trial in 14 stores that found that the 10p items generally sold within hours of being reduced.

East of England Co-op's joint chief executive Roger Grosvenor told the Grocer that the campaign would help customers save money and reduce the retailer's environmental impact.

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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. "By selling perfectly edible food we can save 50,000-plus items every year which would otherwise have gone to waste". These items should not be eaten after the "Use By" date as they may pose a health risk. That's only one of several mind blowing facts about food waste in America.

Many organisations have suggested that consumers are not well-informed enough about the difference between the two labels, or variants of both, and that food is safe to eat after its "Best Before" date, and is often still good to eat years later.

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.

Instead, the East of England Co-op collects donations of non-perishable food and toiletries within date in all its stores. A statement circulating on social media says that an estimated 20 to 30 crates of leftover food from each of Aldi's stores will be free from 4pm on December 24.

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.

According to the government's Food Standards Authority, "best before" dates signal the period when food can reasonably be expected to retain its optimal condition.

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