The UK supermarkets that deliver the freshest – and not so fresh – deliveries have been revealed, and it’s not good news for some high street faves.
According to consumer website Which?’s latest mystery shopper testing, some of the most popular chains deliver products to customers up to their use-by date.
Tesco shoppers can rest the easiest, as their items lasted the longest, averaging 11 days. But Waitrose, one of the pricier supermarkets on the high street, fared the worst in the analysis, with items lasting an average of 8.6 days.
Which? went undercover to find the results, using a team of mystery shoppers to order more than 1,000 groceries. Each mystery shopper ordered the same 16 perishable grocery items, all with use-by (rather than best-before) dates, from six major online supermarkets. They then totalled up the number of full hours remaining from time of delivery to midnight on the use-by date for each item and calculated an average per supermarket.
Which? said it couldn’t even include Iceland on the list as it had missing items or incomparable substitutions.
Three items (from Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons) were delivered on their use-by date, meaning they had only hours left when they were officially safe to eat. Eight items were delivered with a use-by date the following day – four from Sainsbury’s, three from Waitrose and one from Morrisons.
Unfortunately, none of these were flagged as having a short shelf life by the delivery drivers on the doorstep, although some supermarkets did highlight this by email.
Which? also found some examples of food within its use-by date that appeared to have gone off. These included three examples of minced beef where the packaging had expanded with air (from Waitrose, Ocado and Asda) as well as discoloured minced beef from Waitrose and soggy bagged salad from Ocado.
Of the groceries Which? ordered, the packaging of 10 items was so damaged, the food might not have been safe to eat. These ranged from Morrisons’ bacon rashers and Ocado’s pasta salad where the plastic film was torn, to leaking cream and milk from Sainsbury’s, Ocado and Waitrose.
A beetroot salad from Waitrose also splattered everywhere. Meanwhile, a beetroot salad from Sainsbury’s had an illegible use-by date – making it impossible to know if it was safe to eat. There were no examples of damaged packaging from either Tesco or Asda.
Which? reached out to all the supermarkets to comment on the findings. All but Asda responded with a statement. All the supermarkets said they trained staff to ensure they picked only the freshest products.
An Iceland spokesperson added: “These findings are not reflective of our approach to providing the freshest products possible.”
Waitrose, Morrisons, Ocado and Sainsbury’s all told Which? they would investigate further.