Co-op to sell cut price food after 'best before' date

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It says it's the first major retailer to start selling food beyond its "best before" date, although there are some online retailers, such as Approved Food, which operate in this space already.

Shoppers living in East Anglia can now buy dried foods and tinned products beyond their "best before" date, for just 10p.

Resource efficiency experts WRAP estimates that £13bn worth of edible food is wasted in Britain every year - the majority of which is thrown away needlessly.

The problem is being tackled by start-up companies such as surplus banana snack bar Snact and ChicP, which turns unwanted crops into hummus products who have made it their mission to help reduce the amount of food going to waste. "It is mainly tinned and dried goods where eating past the Best Before date is still perfectly safe".

The move follows a three-month trial in 14 of the Co-op's stores and will be launched with new campaign The Co-op Guide to Dating.

"This is not a money-making exercise", Grosvenor went on to explain, "but a sensible move to reduce food waste and keep edible food in the food chain".

The East of England Co-op, which is independent of the national Co-operative Group, will sell dried and tinned food past its "best before" date in 125 United Kingdom stores.

"The vast majority of customers understand they are fine to eat".

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While "Use By" dates are essential warnings for short-life food that can create health risks, "Best Before" dates simply highlight the estimated time of optimum quality, and are mainly for retailers to ensure that brands are not sold short by keeping items that may have lost their freshness on shelves.

Wrap is overseeing a major simplification of labelling with consumers often unaware of the difference between a use-by and a best-before date.

Co-op's 10p reduced products will not include "Use By" dated products, such as fresh meat and fish.

Environment minister, Thérèse Coffey, commented at the time: "We know that confusing labels can contribute to food waste by suggesting that edible items need to be thrown away sooner than is necessary". The products will remain on sale for a month past their best-before date.

"Most foods are safe to eat even after that "sell by" date has passed".

The 10p discounted food is not able to be donated to charities such as food banks, as they now do not accept food after its "best before" date has passed.

Food waste is just as big a problem on this side of the Atlantic, if not bigger - millions of tons of produce end up in USA landfills each year.

According to the government's Food Standards Authority, "best before" dates signal the period when food can reasonably be expected to retain its optimal condition.

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