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Morrisons to scrap use-by dates on milk in favour of ‘sniff test’

·3-min read
From the end of January, the retailer will instead place
From the end of January, the retailer will instead place

The supermarket chain Morrisons will remove “use-by” dates from milk packaging by the end of January in an attempt to save millions of pints from being wasted.

The British supermarket is suggesting that customers should use a simple sniff test to work out whether or not the cow’s milk is off or still usable.

Bottles sold by Morrisons will still carry “best before” dates, which give customers an indication of when the milk will taste at its best, but the milk can can often still be used safely for several days after that point.

Every year in the UK about 330,000 tonnes of milk are wasted which totals around 7 per cent of total UK milk production, according to 2018 figures from food waste charity Wrap.

The majority of wasted milk – 490m pints – is thrown away in the home and it is the third most wasted food in the UK, coming in behind potatoes and bread.

The drink is also associated with high carbon emissions due to the large amount of resources needed to feed cows. This has been a factor behind the rapid growth in plant-based alternatives such those made from oat, almond and soy.

Ian Goode, senior milk buyer at Morrisons, said: "Wasted milk means wasted effort by our farmers and unnecessary carbon being released into the atmosphere.”

He went on to explain: "Good quality well-kept milk has a good few days life after normal ‘use by’ dates - and we think it should be consumed, not tipped down the sink.

"So, we’re taking a bold step today and asking customers to decide whether their milk is still good to drink.”

Morrisons said that customers should check if milk is bad by holding the bottle up to their nose and seeing how it smells. If it smells sour then it could have spoiled.

Other signs that milk is off are lumps or if the milk is curdled.

To keep milk good for longer, bottles should be kept cool and closed as much as possible.

Milk’s life can be extended by keeping it cool, and keeping bottles closed as much as possible.

The move to use-by date free milk will affect 90 per cent of the supermarket’s own-brand milks. These include own-brand British and Scottish milks, Morrisons For Farmers milks, and Morrisons organic milks.

This is not the first time the supermarket chain has removed “use-by” dates from foods. In 2020, Morrisons removed dates from some of its own-brand yoghurt and hard cheese ranges.

Best practice guidelines drawn up by Wrap with the Food Standards Agency and the government say that a “use-by” date is only required for food safety reasons and that these do not apply for milk.

Marcus Gover, of Wrap, called Morrisons’ move an “important step” in towards reducing household food waste and praised the supermarket chain for its actions.

He explained: "I am delighted that Morrisons is the first UK supermarket to take this important step to help reduce household food waste - it shows real leadership and we look forward to more retailers reviewing date labels on their products and taking action."

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