UK – In a proactive effort to combat food waste, Aldi, the discount supermarket chain, is set to replace “use by” dates with “best before” dates on milk bottles, excluding filtered milk, in all its stores across England and Wales.

This strategic move is expected to be fully implemented by the end of 2023.

With approximately 300,000 tonnes of milk going to waste each year, Aldi’s pioneering initiative aims to curb this wastage.

The waste reduction charity Waste Resources Action Programme (WRAP) has revealed that half of households discard milk due to its “use by” date. Aldi’s alternative approach seeks to encourage shoppers to rely on their senses by employing the “sniff test” to determine the freshness of milk.

The supermarket believes that milk can remain safe to consume beyond its “best before” date, provided it has been stored correctly and doesn’t exhibit any foul odors.

Liz Fox, Sustainability Director at Aldi UK, emphasizes the company’s commitment to sustainability and reducing food waste, both within their stores and through educating customers about responsible food consumption.

“We are constantly working to be a more sustainable retailer and we are dedicated to preventing food waste wherever we can, both in our stores and helping customers throw away less food at home.

“We hope shoppers embrace this change and look, smell, and taste their milk to see if it’s still fine to use, so together we can reduce the effect food waste has on the environment,” she said.

However, according to UK’s Food Standard Agency (FSA) use-by dates relate to the food’s safety whilst the best-before dates relate to food quality.

It cautions against using the sniff test, citing that although food can “look and smell fine” after its use-by date, it might still not be “safe to eat as it could still be contaminated”.

“You cannot see, smell or taste the bacteria that cause food poisoning,” the FSA website reads.

Unified stand against food waste

Aldi’s decision to switch to “best before” dates on milk follows a series of impactful changes across UK supermarkets.

Previously, the company eliminated best-before dates from 60 of its fresh fruit and vegetable lines. This new measure aligns with Aldi’s goal of halving its food waste by 2030, echoing efforts by other major UK retailers including Morrisons, Waitrose, Marks & Spencer, and Tesco.

Tesco led the charge by removing best-before dates from over 100 fresh food products in 2018, initiating a trend among high street supermarkets. This year, it expanded its waste reduction initiative on more than 30 yogurt lines.

Marks & Spencer later followed suit, eliminating best-before dates from more than 300 fruit and vegetable products after a successful trial.

Aldi’s innovative step not only aligns with its sustainability goals but also empowers consumers to make informed decisions about the freshness and usability of their groceries.

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