M&S to axe best-before labels on 300 food items to slash food waste

M&S to axe best-before labels on 300 food items in bid to slash household food waste

  •  They will axe the labels from 85 per cent of its produce so over 300 products
  •  A Government report in 2017 urged supermarkets to remove ‘best-before’ labels
  • The new M&S initiative will be rolled out across all their UK stores this week 
  •  Andrew Clappen Marks & Spencer said: ‘We’re determined to tackle food waste’

Marks & Spencer is to remove best-before dates from hundreds of fresh products in a bid to slash household food waste, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

The high street giant will axe the labels from 85 per cent of its produce – more than 300 products – including apples, potatoes and broccoli. Instead, staff will use a code to ensure quality and freshness is maintained on shelves.

The move is the latest victory for The Mail on Sunday’s food waste campaign, which aims to cut the amount of food being dumped in bins by households each week by 30 per cent.

The new M&S initiative is set to be rolled out across all their UK stores this week

An investigation by this newspaper last year revealed as much as £900 million of food is thrown out each year because of misleading labels on fruit and vegetables, as well as dairy products.

Best-before labels, which refer only to the product’s quality, have been blamed for customers throwing away perfectly safe food because they are mistaken for ‘use-by’ labels, which indicate safety.

A Government-backed report published in 2017 urged supermarkets to remove ‘best-before’ labels and encourage customers to use their judgment.

It stated: ‘For uncut fresh produce, apply “best before” only where this is judged to be necessary/ useful in order to help consumers eat – rather than waste – the product. For all other cases, do not apply a date code.’

The Mail on Sunday’s food waste campaign aims to cut the amount of food being dumped in bins by households each week by 30 per cent

It advised keeping best-before labels only for products which have a limited shelf life, for example strawberries, to encourage families to eat food before it goes off.

The new M&S initiative – to be rolled out across all their UK stores this week – is its latest step to reduce the amount of its food products going to waste.

It recently launched a banana waste reduction scheme, which allows customers to buy a minimum of three ready-to-eat bananas for just 25p, along with recipes to go with them.

Over 200 M&S stores are already using unsold bread  to make frozen garlic bread that customers can buy the next day

And more than 200 M&S stores are using unsold baguettes and boules – which are baked fresh daily – to create frozen garlic bread for customers to buy the next day.

Andrew Clappen, director of food technology at Marks & Spencer, 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.’

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