Co-op to sell food after 'best before' date to beat waste

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FOOD which is past its best-before date is being sold for pennies by a supermarket chain as part of a campaign to slash waste.

The East of England Co-op, which has 125 stores in East Anglia, plans to sell dried and tinned food including rice, crisps, and pasta for just 10p in a bid to reduce food waste.

Products that will be on offer include tinned goods, packets, and dried food.

"[In the U.S.] expiration dates on food are not required by any federal law, although some states require such dates on meat or milk".

East of England Co-op's joint chief executive Roger Grosvenor told the Grocer that the campaign would help customers save money and reduce the retailer's environmental impact.

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"We are trying to reduce our waste and keep as much food in the food chain as possible", East of England Co-Op said on its website.

Mr Grosvenor said it was not a money-making exercise, but by selling perfectly edible food it could save 50,000 plus items every year from going to waste, adding that the majority of customers understand they are fine to eat.

Instead, the East of England Co-op collects donations of non-perishable food and toiletries within date in all its stores.

The East of England Co-op is independent of the national Co-operative Group. As a food product passes its "expiration" date, it may get stale, and some products, like milk, may go sour.

The retailer has now also instigated a new Reduced to Clear policy, offering more significant discounts earlier in the day on products nearing their Use By dates to further help reduce waste, though no products will be sold beyond their Use By date, which relates to food safety.

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The 10p discounted food is not able to be donated to food banks, which do not accept food beyond its best before date.

In a separate move, budget supermarket Aldi says it will give away tons of leftover food from each of its stores over Christmas.

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.

It has issued new labelling guidance to supermarkets which recommends the "little blue fridge" logo should be used on packs alongside the wording "Store in the fridge below 5°C".

"While "use by" date labels indicate when a product is safe to eat, "best before" date labels only refer to when food is at its best".

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Food waste is an ever-growing concern throughout the world.

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