The supermarket giant is to place best before warnings on 90 percent of its own brand milk with customers encouraged to sniff the contents to check if it is off or not. Ian Goode, senior milk buyer at Morrisons’ hailed the move as a bold step.
He 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.”
According to the recycling charity Wrap, Morrisons is the first supermarket to make the change which is due to be introduced from January 31.
It says that milk is the third most wasted food and drink product in the UK after potatoes and bread with almost 500 million pints going to waste every year.
Wrap estimates 85 million pints of wasted milk may be due to people adhering to use by labels in spite of research showing it is still safe to drink days after a given date.
Morrisons believes the move could prevent seven million pints of its own milk being thrown away annually.
Use by are the dates until perishable food can be cooked and eaten safely while best before labels on food acts as guidance for when the product should be consumed to get the best quality, taste and texture.
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The Food Standards Agency (FSA) told the broadcaster it was alright to have use by or best before on milk depending on the processing and type, but there must be clear labelling and the dates printed on all food and drink must be based on robust evidence.
It added that when dealing with food in general, sniffing is not an appropriate safety test, especially with products that could cause food poisoning.
The move comes after a Wrap analysis of greenhouse gas emissions linked to food and drink production and consumption in the UK showed the need to slash the sector’s carbon footprint if the country is to achieve its net zero target.
Wrap’s study estimates the UK food system was responsible for nearly 160 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions in the UK and overseas in 2019.
This is equivalent to about 35 percent of the UK’s territorial emissions, although not all of these occur in this country.
The study showed that a 50 percent reduction in food-related emissions by 2030 is possible if urgent action is taken.
Milk is linked with high carbon emissions because of the large amount of resources that are required to feed cows.
Morrisons has committed itself to reducing food waste in stores by 50 percent by 2030.
It says its unsold food is sent to organisations including Too Good to Go, The Bread and Butter Thing as well as food banks, charities and community groups.
Where it cannot be redistributed, the supermaket chain uses anaerobic digestion to generate electricity which contributes to renewable energy generation in the UK.