Co-op Guide to Dating a brilliant way to save money and cut waste

One of the 10p items on sale in the East of England Co-op's new scheme reduce food waste.
Photo: Ar

One of the 10p items on sale in the East of England Co-op's new scheme reduce food waste. Photo: Archant - Credit: Archant

Congratulations to the East of England Co-op for becoming the first major supermarket to sell produce beyond its ‘best before’ date.

I’ve long been a fan of the reduced-price fresh produce section in my local Co-op, where I regularly pick up fruit and veg which is about to go out of date, so (without wishing to sound like I really need to get out more) I could hardly wait to find out what items, being sold for a nominal 10p, I could pick up in its new scheme to sell past-their-date non-perishable foods that would otherwise be thrown away.

The Co-op Guide to Dating scheme is part of a drive to drastically reduce food waste, of which there is far too much - something I’ve written about many times before in this column.

The supermarket’s joint chief executive Roger Grosvenor says its initiative should save 50,000-plus items from going to waste every year, which is great but sadly only a fraction of the 30-50% of food thrown away globally every year.

Hopefully it will spur other retailers into taking similar action and get us all thinking about the food we buy - and throw away.

There wasn’t much on offer in the ‘It’s now or never my date won’t wait’ box at my local Co-op today but I didn’t come away empty handed, bagging two multipacks of crisps for just 10p each. They’ve both gone into my Christmas food stash and despite having ‘best before’ dates of November 28 and December 2, I know they’ll be absolutely fine for weeks, if not months to come.

I also wandered down to see what fresh produce had been reduced and got four beautiful oranges for 50p along with some half-price tomatoes, peppers, broccoli and salad cress.

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I can’t help thinking though, there’s still a lot of work to do on educating people about ‘best before’ and ‘use by’ dates on food.

Listening to some of the news coverage of the Co-op’s new scheme it was clear some people were confusing the two.

‘Best before’ means just that. Food is still safe to eat after that date. ‘Use by’, usually on meat, fish and other chilled produce, means food should not be consumed after its use by date.

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