Morrisons scraps 'use by' date on milk in favour of 'best before' tags

Morrisons scraps its ‘use by’ date on milk in favour of ‘best before’ tags in a victory for The Mail on Sunday’s campaign to slash food waste

  • Milk is third most wasted UK drink product with 490 million pints binned a year
  • It has the largest carbon footprint of any food and drink due to farming involved 
  • Many producers have introduced ‘Look, Smell, Taste, Don’t Waste’ labels
  • But until now with Morrisons, no major supermarket has taken such a step 

Morrisons is to become the first British supermarket to scrap ‘use by’ dates on milk in a victory for The Mail on Sunday’s campaign to slash food waste.

The company will switch to ‘best before’ dates on 90 per cent of milk bottles and cartons from January 31 to encourage customers to bin it only when it smells off – and see the date as no more than a guide to freshness. 

The move – which the MoS called for last year in our War On Food Waste campaign – will put other supermarkets under pressure to do the same.

The company will switch to ‘best before’ dates on 90 per cent of milk bottles and cartons from January 31 [File photo]

While the switch may seem a subtle distinction, the difference is significant.

Under food safety rules, supermarkets put ‘use by’ dates on meat and other products that pose a health risk if consumed after a certain date.

The ‘best before’ label, by contrast, is for food or drink that is safe to consume after the date on its label, even if it no longer tastes fresh.

An MoS investigation last year revealed households were throwing away perfectly good food and drink worth as much as £900 million each year because supermarkets routinely put misleading labels on fruit, vegetables and dairy items.

Morrisons will remove ‘use by’ dates on own-brand British milk and that from Danish supplier Arla, which together account for 90 per cent of its sales

Milk is the third most wasted food and drink product in the UK, with 490 million pints going down the drain each year. It also has the largest carbon footprint of any food and drink due to the farming involved in production. 

One litre can account for up to 4.5kg of CO2 being pumped into the atmosphere – the equivalent of driving the average petrol car for 16 miles.

University of Chester research found that milk from Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons kept in a fridge at 4C was safe to drink seven days after its ‘use by’ date.

Morrisons will remove ‘use by’ dates on own-brand British milk and that from Danish supplier Arla, which together account for 90 per cent of its sales.

New packaging will tell customers how they can tell if their milk has spoiled, including sniffing it.

Many producers have introduced ‘Look, Smell, Taste, Don’t Waste’ labels urging consumers to check if milk has turned sour – but until now no major supermarket has taken such a step.

Ian Goode, senior milk buyer at Morrisons, said: ‘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. Generations before us used the sniff test – and I believe we can, too.’

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