The supermarket Goliath Tesco is set to remove “Best Before” dates from almost 70 fruit and vegetable products, in an effort to reduce food waste. Apples, potatoes, tomatoes, onions, citrus fruit and other fresh produce will have their “Best Before” labels taken off.
Overall, there is some general confusion as to what the term “Best Before” means. It refers to food being edible, but likely past its best. “Use By” dates suggest eating the food after the date could pose a safety risk. Consumers can easily confuse these two, therefore large amounts of edible food are thrown away because it is viewed as a health risk by mistake.
Fruits and vegetables are amongst the most wasted food items. As a result, Tesco is abandoning the “Best Before” labels for fresh produce in order to tackle food waste. “Best Before” should be your own judgement of quality. Essentially, if food looks and smells fine then it is still edible.
How long your fruits and vegetables last at home is dependent on how you store them. Knowing how to store food items properly means you can utilise your food and reduce food waste. Here are some tips to consider the next time you are unpacking the groceries:
Put Fruit in the Fridge
It seems like an obvious point, but it does work. Fruit that is stored in the fridge will last much longer and stay fresh when compared to using a fruit bowl. However, always keep bananas out of the fridge, as they produce acids and hormones that keep them sweet. When they are stored in the fridge, these acids are no longer produced thus changing the colour of the skin from yellow to black.
Keep it in the Packaging
Certain items are best kept in their original packaging. For example, a cucumber will last 3 days without the packaging but can be kept for 2 weeks with the packaging.
Love Your Potatoes
In the UK, potatoes are the most wasted food item. Although they are unsightly, the roots that sprout from a potato don’t indicate that it’s no longer edible. Simply cut them off and the potato is still fine. Never store potatoes in the fridge. They should be kept in a cupboard where it is dark, dry and cool.
Use the Freezer
Unfortunately, the smell and sight test used for “Best Before” dates won’t apply to “Use By” dates. You can’t smell or see the bacteria that could be present on meat for example. If the “Use By” date comes up and you still haven’t used an item that you want to keep, put it in the freezer. This will put any bacterial growth on hold until you cook the food item. Just make sure you defrost thoroughly and then use anything within 24 hours.
Additionally, the second most wasted household food is bread. You can easily store bread in the freezer until you need to use it. If you require some urgently, there is usually a defrost option on your toaster.