Co-op removes last expiration date from its own brand of yogurt in an attempt to solve the problem of millions of pots that are still safe to eat that go to waste every year.
Instead, Co-op’s own yogurts from next month will have a best-before date, with customers encouraged to “use their judgment” to assess whether they are edible. About 42,000 tonnes of yoghurt – worth £ 100 million – are thrown into British homes every year because it is obsolete, according to food waste organization Wrap. Half are dumped in unopened packages.
Nick Cornwell, Co-op’s head of food technology, said that “the acidity of yoghurt acts as a natural defense. We would encourage customers to use their judgment on the quality of their yoghurt if it is past the best-before date, “Yogurt can be safe to eat if stored unopened in the refrigerator after the date label shown, so we’ve switched to best-before dates to help reduce food waste,” he said.
The average family with children scraps 244 kg of food, or 580 meals, each year, and the total bill for this waste is £ 730. For one person, the estimated waste figure is 69 kg, which adds up to £ 210. This waste is bad for the planet because about a third of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions are related to our food and drink.
While expiration dates are about safety and are applied to foods that go away quickly and can cause food poisoning, it is best before an indicator of quality. Food is still safe to eat after this date, but the taste and consistency may not be as good.
Expiration dates are often found on products, such as milk and yogurt, where it is best to do so, a practice that is blamed for contributing to food waste. However, things are starting to change. Morrisons recently switched to best-before dates on its milk, urging customers to use the “sniff test” to assess whether it is OK.
The “see, smell, taste, do not waste” campaign, run by the food waste app Too Good to Go, has so far recruited 40 brands, including big names such as Nestlé, Danone and Onken. The companies involved have switched from expiration date to best-before date on products including milk, yogurt and cheese.
“We know that the date mark on yogurt is a fundamental reason why it goes to waste at home,” said Catherine David, Wrap’s director of collaboration and change. “Applying a best-before date helps give people the confidence to use their judgment to eat beyond a best-before date and use more of the yogurt they buy.”
The co-op said the dates would begin to change over the course of next month with the shift due to be completed by the fall.