Tesco to sell unwashed potatoes for first time since 1970s

Return of muddy spuds! Tesco will sell unwashed potatoes for the first time since the 1970s in bid to cut food waste

  •  262 of the supermarket’s 2,650 stores are trialling sale of unwashed potatoes 
  •  Experts say this could help double the shelf life of the popular vegetable
  •  Potatoes, as well as bread, milk, bacon and carrots are most likely to go to waste

Tesco is trialling the sale of unwashed potatoes for the first time in 40 years in a bid to reduce food wastage.

Shoppers at 262 of the supermarket giant’s 2,650 stores can now buy spuds as nature intended from the Branston organic range.

Experts say potatoes last longer if they are kept dry and in a dark cupboard, as both light and moisture can result in rotting on the skin, which will shorten their shelf life.

Tesco will sell dirty potatoes for the first time since the 1970s in a bid to cut down food waste

They should also be somewhere ventilated, rather than in airtight containers. 

The logic behind selling potatoes with soil is it helps to block out light and slow down decay and could extend usability dates from five days to 11.

Customers will not however receive fewer spuds in the bag, as Tesco said it has taken soil into account and adjusted the weights accordingly.

Tesco is selling the unwashed potatoes at 262 of the supermarket giant’s 2,650 stores 

Rob Hooper, from Tesco, told The Sunday Times: ‘Up until about 50 years ago, potatoes would generally be sold unwashed, and having a natural film of soil around them would help keep them fresher for longer.

‘At the end of the 1970s, supermarkets and greengrocers moved towards selling more cosmetically perfect produce, and as a result, potatoes were washed before being put out on display.’ 

Waste action group Wrap welcomed the move, adding that unused potatoes were one of the most likely foods to be thrown away each week. 

Experts say potatoes have a longer shelf life if they are kept unwashed in a dark and dry place

Will McManus, Wrap’s sector specialist for fresh produce, said: ‘Wasting household food makes a huge contribution to global emissions, with 70 per cent of food waste, outside farms, coming from the home.’

Other foods most likely to be wasted by households include bread, milk, bacon, chicken and carrots.

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