Tesco changes yogurt labelling to cut down on food waste

Tesco is to switch from ‘Use By’ to ‘Best Before’ dates on more than 30 yogurt lines in its latest move to help its customers reduce their food waste.

The move – which is being made to help prevent perfectly edible food from being thrown away – will enable customers to use their own judgement on whether to eat a product.

Latest stats taken from a survey by food waste prevention group WRAP revealed that:

  • UK consumers waste 54,000 tonnes of yogurt a year which is equal to nine per cent of purchases
  • Half of yogurts are thrown away in unopened packs – a very high figure compared with other foods
  • 70 per cent of packs wasted in the home are thrown away due to the product having passed its date.

To keep things simple, Tesco uses two date descriptions on its packs.

‘Best Before’ dates are put on foods by retailers as a quality indication to show that although they may no longer be at their best they are still good to eat.

And ‘Use By’ dates are used when products need to be eaten before the date for safety reasons. A product with a ‘Use By’ date must be eaten or frozen by midnight on its ‘Use By’ date.

This latest move by Tesco follows a market-leading waste initiative started by the supermarket in 2018, where ‘Best Before’ dates were removed from more than 170 fruit and vegetable lines including apples, potatoes, tomatoes, lemons and other citrus fruit and onions to help Tesco customers waste less food at home.

Tesco Lead Technical Manager for Dairy Amy Walker said: “We know some shoppers may be unclear about the difference between ‘Use By’ and ‘Best Before’ dates on food and this can lead to perfectly edible items being thrown away unnecessarily.”
“We have made the decision to remove ‘Use By’ dates on yogurts where it is safe to do so, after extensive testing which reveals that the acidity of the product acts as a natural preservative. However consumers should always use their judgement to determine if the quality is acceptable.”

“These lines represent a significant proportion of our own brand yogurts and we hope to phase the change in between now and the end of June.”

The yoghurts include popular Tesco lines such as Greek Style Yogurt 500g, Creamfields Greek Style Yogurt 500g, Creamfields Berry Medley Low Fat Yogurt 6x125g and Finest Lemon Curd Yogurt 150g.

Catherine David, Director of Collaboration & Change at WRAP said: “WRAP welcomes this change from our partner, Tesco, which will help reduce food waste in our homes. Wasting food feeds climate change and costs us money – with the average family spending over £700 year on good food which ends up in the bin.”

“Our research shows applying the appropriate date label to products can help reduce the amount of good food that is thrown away. For yogurts, applying a ‘Best before’ date rather than a ‘Use by’ date means that people can use their judgement to eat beyond that date, giving people longer to use what they buy.”

“Check out Love Food Hate Waste for tips on how to make the most of the food you buy – for example ensuring your fridge is below 5°C, to keep your food fresher for longer.”

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