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Sell fresh uncut produce loose and without best before dates, report recommends

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U

K retailers should sell fresh uncut fruit and vegetables without best before dates or plastic packaging to prevent 14 million shopping baskets worth of food from going to waste, a report has recommended.

Selling fresh produce loose and without best before dates enabled consumers to buy the right amount for their needs and to use their judgment to decide when items were still good to eat, waste reduction charity Wrap said.

It has recommended that the UK’s major retailers “rethink” how they sell uncut fresh produce, specifically by removing plastic packaging and date labels unless it is shown that they reduce overall food waste.

Wrap’s recommendations follow an 18-month study into five commonly wasted items – apples, bananas, broccoli, cucumber and potatoes – stored in the original packaging and loose, and at different temperatures.

The charity found that selling the five loose and removing best before dates could result in a combined yearly saving of around 100,000 tonnes of household food waste, more than 10,300 tonnes of plastic and 130,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent.

While most supermarkets already sold some items loose, the new research presented compelling evidence for significantly increasing the practice across a wide range of fresh fruit and vegetables.

The study also confirmed that uncut fresh produce could be good to eat long after the best before date, and most items lasted longer in the fridge.

When stored at 4°C, apples showed no signs of deterioration until two and a half months after their best before date and were still good to eat for some time after that, researchers found.

Broccoli showed no signs of deterioration until more than two weeks after the best before date.

As a result, Wrap is recommending that retailers help shoppers understand the importance of refrigerating appropriate fresh produce below 5°C at home.

Wrap said it had shared its findings and recommendations with the UK’s largest food retailers but acknowledged that implementing them was “likely to take time”.

We need retailers to step up and follow our recommendations

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