A major UK grocery retailer has announced that it will be removing the expiration date on its dairy products to help reduce waste.
Morrisons, which has several large stores in Birmingham and the West Midlands, has announced the move to what is believed to be a UK supermarket.
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This means that the grocery chain no longer shows the end date when its own-brand milk can be consumed, but opts for an alternative label, the best-before date.
But what exactly does a best-before date mean? And is there anything else consumers can do to determine whether or not milk can be consumed? This is what we know.
Why is supermarket giant Morrisons waiving the expiration date of milk and what is replacing it?
Ian Goode, Morrisons’ chief milk buyer, said the Manchester Evening News The decision was made taking into account the economy and the environment.
He said: “Wasting milk means wasting our farmers’ labor and releasing unnecessary carbon into the atmosphere.
“Well-cared for milk of good quality can be kept for a few days after the normal best-before date – and we are of the opinion that it should be drunk and not thrown in the sink.”
The supermarket asks customers to use the “sniff test” to decide whether they can safely consume their own-brand milk. Here the customer sniffs the milk before consuming it to decide whether it is safe.
Mr. Goode added, “So we’re taking a bold step today asking customers to decide whether their milk is still safe to drink.
“Generations before us have always used the sniff test – and I think we can do that too.”
But the Food Standards Agency wasn’t impressed by that, and said the BBC that the sniff test was not an appropriate security measure.
However, the supermarket will not rely entirely on the sniff test. While eliminating the use of best before dates, Morrisons’ own branded milk uses the best before date instead, letting customers decide for themselves whether the milk is safe to consume.
The Food Standards Agency announced the BBC that it is okay for businesses to use the expiration date or the best before date, but that any decision about which label to use should ensure that it is backed by “robust evidence”.
Foods with a short shelf life are tagged with a use-by date, which tells customers the day by which they can be safely eaten and cooked. You shouldn’t eat a product after the expiration date, even if it smells nice, its texture is okay, and the quality appears good as it may not be safe to consume.
A best-before date, on the other hand, describes the quality of a product rather than its safety. If you consume a product just a few days after the best before date, it may still be safe to eat, but it may not have the same texture and quality as it was before the date.
If the dairy product has an unpleasant odor or looks curdled in nature, it should not be consumed only after using labels.