ENGLAND – Morrisons, the fourth largest chain of supermarkets in the United Kingdom, is to get rid of the ‘use-by’ dates on most of its milk range to help cut down on food waste.

The food label will be replaced by ‘best-before’ dates on 90 per cent of its own-brand milk, including own-brand British and Scottish milks, Morrisons For Farmers milks, and Morrisons organic milks.

The supermarket had already scrapped “use-by” dates on some of its own-brand yoghurt and hard cheese ranges in 2020.

It hopes that the move which it will introduce at the end of January 2022 will stop millions of pints of milk from being thrown away every year.

Morrisons said it was taking the bold step to help support both farmers and climate change. The retailer added that its research showed that milk does not need to be labelled as a perishable food.

“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 left after normal ‘use-by’ dates – and we think it should be consumed, not tipped down the sink. Generations before us have always used the sniff test – and I believe we can too,” Ian Goode, a senior milk buyer at Morrison’s said.

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.

Morrisons said customers should check milk by holding the bottle to their nose. If it smells sour then it may have spoiled. If it has curdled and lumps have formed that is also a sign it should not be used. Milk’s life can be extended by keeping it cool, and keeping bottles closed as much as possible.

The Waste and Resources Action Programme which operates as WRAP, has welcomed the move adding Morrisons is the first supermarket to introduce the change. WRAP is a registered UK charity that advocates for waste recycling for more sustainable processes.

It estimates that milk is the third most wasted food and drink product in the UK, after potatoes and bread, with some 490 pints wasted each year.

The charity also approximates 85 million pints may be wasted due to consumers adhering to the ‘use-by’ label.

“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,” CEO Marcus Gover said.

Morrisons believes the move could save seven million pints of its own-brand milk being poured away each year.

Liked this article? Subscribe to Food Safety Africa News, our regular email newsletters with the latest news insights from Africa and the World’s food safety, quality and compliance. SUBSCRIBE HERE