Tesco to scrap ‘best before’ dates from fruit and vegetable lines

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In the Guardian today it has been reported that Tesco is going to scrap best before dates from fruits and vegetable lines.  This is being put in plance in an effort to reduce food waste.

Have you ever looked at the best before date on a fruit and thought “No chance….this is rock hard, it’s never going to go off in 3 days!”  It seems like sometimes these dates are picked arbitrarily without any real knowledge of the ripening cycle of the fruit involved.  Persimmon, for example, can take over a month to ripen in full…..yet supermarkets will suggest you eat them while still hard. 

Probably, like me, you have learned to ignore these dates and go with your sense of taste, smell and feel to assess the ripeness or readiness of a fruit.  The other thing that is confusing is the “ready to eat” or “perfectly ripe” signs that never see, to be accurate either.

The article states, published in the Guardian, states:

The UK’s largest supermarket is to scrap potentially confusing “best before” dates from dozens more of its fresh fruit and vegetable lines after research found ditching the labels helped customers reduce their food waste at home.

Tesco shoppers will from this week no longer find date labels on a further 116 items of produce – including own-brand apples, oranges, cabbages and asparagus. Tesco hopes this will prevent food from being thrown away while still edible. The supermarket removed guidance dates from about 70 fruit and vegetable lines earlier this year.

Research carried out for the retailer, published on Monday, found that 69% of shoppers believed scrapping “best before” dates was a good idea. More than half (53%) of shoppers in the same survey said they thought scrapping best before dates made a difference, helping them keep perfectly good food for longer.”

Essentially, as human beings are designed to consume fruit we are also perfectly capable of assessing the quality, ripeness, readiness or rottenness of the fruit.  We know when it has gone off and don’t eat it.  We also know when it is delicious and edible.  Our senses are designed for this purpose.

However, this is not so with other foods:

“Compulsory “use by” labels have to be put on foods such as meat, fish, eggs and dairy products that carry a safety risk if eaten after that date. But the best before dates put on fruit and vegetables are largely a quality indication to show that although they may no longer be at their best, they are still safe to eat.”

What this is telling us is that some foods (meat, eggs, fish, dairy) pose a much greater threat to our health than others.  Of course, for other animals that are designed to consume these foods, the signs that the meat, dairy, fish or eggs where not suitable to eat would be quite obvious to them.

In their natural state, those foods are a turn off to our senses.  The idea of eat a dead animal, or eating a raw egg or drink milk from the udder of a cow is a revolting concept.  That is our sensory safeguard in place stopping us from making a bad decision.

As for fruit, we are drawn towards its colour, it’s shape, it’s beauty as we have been for millions of years.  We are well aware when it is good or not to eat.

The article ends with a profoun point on food waste:

“Food waste is a huge issue in the UK: £13bn of edible food is thrown away from homes every year, according to the government’s waste advisory body, Wrap. A further £3bn is wasted by the hospitality and food service sector.”

 

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