Products will, however, retain their best before dates to ensure safe sale in supermarkets.
Dairy co-operative Arla, which is behind supermarket brands such as Cravendale, BOB, and Lactofree, is to scrap use-by dates for its products and encourage customers to use the “sniff test” on milk instead.
The Danish group said it wants to reduce food waste and said shoppers can instead check the freshness of products by smelling them.
Citing research by sustainability campaign group Wrap, which suggested as much as seven per cent of all milk produced in the UK is poured away, Arla said it hopes to bring that figure down by removing use-by dates.
Arla said it will introduce new labelling on its branded fresh milk by the end of the year. Products will, however, retain their best before dates to ensure safe sale in supermarkets. Current Food Standards Authority rules say one or the other must be displayed.
No ‘immediate danger’
Fran Ball, the co-op’s director of quality, environmental health, and safety, said the dairy sector has “created a system where we are telling consumers there is an immediate danger to their health by consuming milk after the use-by-date.”
She told The Grocer: “This is simply not true, and a best before label is more appropriate in that it tells people the date until which they can expect the food to maintain its best quality,” she added.
“If moving to best-before encourages us all to sniff or taste test to see if the milk is still good for a few further days rather than throw it away, then it’s the right thing to be doing.”
‘More flexibility’ around food
Wrap has welcomed the move and said label changes can have a real impact on reducing food waste.
The charity’s head of business collaboration David Moon said: “Our industry guidance on the choice and application of date labels favours products carrying a best before label, wherever food safety is not compromised.
“These labels gave people more flexibility around food as they were a quality indicator, not a safety marker.”
In June, i reported a poll of 2,000 adults found British people will comfortably consume cheese 10 days after its best before date, devour bread five days past its best, and feast on fish three days after its freshest.
It also emerged Brits will cook raw meat three days past its use by date and consume butter as many as 10 days later.
Fruit and vegetables are regularly enjoyed nine days past their recommended shelf-life, while fruit juice is considered “good” for seven extra days.