Morrisons scrapping ‘use by’ dates from milk to help customers reduce waste

From 31 January Morrisons will scrap ‘Use By’ dates on 90 per cent of its own brand milk – and encourage its customers to use a sniff test – to help to reduce food waste in the home. 

Morrisons anticipates the move will stop millions of pints of its own brand milk from being thrown away every year. 

‘Use By’ dates will be scrapped from Morrisons own brand British and Scottish milks, Morrisons For Farmers milks and Morrisons organic milks in store – supplied into Morrisons by Arla farmers. Morrisons South West milk and The Best Jersey milk are yet to be converted. 

Morrisons will instead encourage its customers to use a simple sniff test to check if their milk is still good to consume. The milk packaging will show ‘Best Before’ dates to indicate to customers when they should drink it by – to get the best taste. Unlike some other fresh products, drinking milk after a ‘Best Before’ date is not a food safety issue. 

Milk is the third most wasted food and drink product in the UK, after potatoes and bread, with around 490 million pints wasted every year. And milk has the largest carbon footprint of these food and drink products because its production is so resource-intensive. One litre of milk can account for up to 4.5kg of  CO2. 

Research shows fresh milk can often last a number of days past the ‘Use By’ date shown on the bottle. However UK customers are routinely throwing away milk – as they incorrectly believe the milk is unsafe to drink. WRAP estimates that 85 million pints of milk waste may be a result of customers sticking to ’Use By’ labels or ‘once opened use within’ guidance – when products may still be good to consume. 

Ian Goode, Senior Milk Buyer at Morrisons, said: “Wasted milk means wasted effort by our farmers and unnecessary carbon being released into the atmosphere. 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. Generations before us have always used the sniff test – and I believe we can too.” 

Marcus Gover, CEO at WRAP, said: “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. WRAP’s joint Best Practice with FSA and Defra is to only apply a ‘Use By’ date when required for food safety reasons. Applying a Best Before date to indicate quality on all other products means people have longer to use their food. Almost 300,000 tonnes of milk is wasted from UK homes each year, worth £270million, with the main reason being that it isn’t used in time. Making improvements to labelling forms an important part of WRAP’s efforts under the Courtauld Commitment 2030 to reduce household food waste. It is fantastic to see Morrisons, as a Courtauld signatory, making this change – giving people the confidence to use their judgment and consume more of the milk they buy.”

Morrisons has already scrapped ‘Use By’ dates across some of its own-brand yogurt and hard cheese ranges in 2020. 

Morrisons has committed to reducing food waste in stores by 50% by 2030. The company takes great care to order what it thinks it can sell and where products are close to their ‘Use By’ or ‘Best Before’ date, they are offered to customers at reduced prices. When waste does occur, Morrisons ‘Unsold Food’ programme works with a range of partners including Too Good to Go, The Bread and Butter Thing and local food banks, charities and community groups, to ensure food can be redistributed. Where food cannot be redistributed, Morrisons use anaerobic digestion to generate electricity, which in turn contributes to renewable energy generation across the UK.

The milk sniff test: 

  • Hold the milk bottle to your nose – if it smells sour then it may have spoiled
  • Look at your milk – if you can see that it has curdled then it is not right.

How to make your milk last longer:

  • Put your milk in a cool bag when bringing it back from the supermarket
  • Refrigerate your milk as soon as you get your shopping home
  • Maintain your fridge at between 1- 4 degree Celsius
  • Never drink from your milk bottle
  • Close your milk bottle immediately after use
  • Do not leave your milk out of the fridge.

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