A number of perishable commodities sold in UK supermarkets are gradually losing their expiration dates in favor of the common sense of their customers. The decision also represents a new front in a bleak consumer conflict with rising inflation, despite the claims of the chain shops that it will save customers money and reduce waste.
The traditional “best before” and “use by” dates on some products will be completely or partially eliminated by Asda, Co-Op, Morrisons, Waitrose, Tesco Plc, and Marks & Spencer Group Plc. In some cases, scannable codes will replace the traditional dates so that store employees can keep an eye out for expired goods.
Morrisons started the fad by doing away with the indicators from 90% of its own-brand milk and advising customers to conduct a “sniff test” in their place. With the elimination of expiration dates on around 250 of its fresh fruit and vegetable goods beginning on September 1, discount retailer Asda is the most recent to adopt the change.
While rival M&S is removing best before dates from more than 300 lines of fruit and vegetable items throughout its stores, upmarket retailer Waitrose is also doing so on roughly 500 fresh products, including root vegetables, fruits, and indoor plants, starting in September.
Along with their announcements of label policy changes, all of the supermarkets declared vows to reduce food waste, with Co-Op noting waste as the main motivation for removing use-by dates from its own-brand yogurt.
However, the adjustment comes against a more somber background in the UK, where media outlets have started recommending that inflation-stretched Britons might contemplate consuming expired food goods. The merchants have attempted to portray the policy change as an environmentally aware move.