M&S scraps use-by dates on milk as customers told to ‘use judgement’ instead

The change is part of the retailer’s commitment to halve food waste by 2030

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M&S has become the latest retailer to scrap use-by dates from its own brand dairy products as part of its commitment to reduce food waste.

The company will replace ‘Use By’ dates with ‘Best Before’ dates across its RSPCA Assured Select Farms British and organic fresh milk from this week.

The change will be rolled out across all M&S UK stores with the retailer hoping the initiative will help its goal of halving food waste by 2030 and reaching net zero by 2040.

M&S will be the first retailer to offer ‘Best Before’ labelling on fully recyclable milk bottles after it removed coloured plastic caps on milk earlier this year.

It said customers should now “use their judgement” before throwing away milk which may still be fresh and too good to waste.

The retailer said that the combination of “improved shelf life and overall quality of milk in recent years” has allowed it to make the change to ‘Best Before’ dates.

UK homes are estimated to waste more than 490 million pints of milk a year according to recycling charity WRAP.

M&S scraps use-by-dates on milk as shoppers told ‘use judgement’. (Photo: M&S UK) M&S scraps use-by-dates on milk as shoppers told ‘use judgement’. (Photo: M&S UK)
M&S scraps use-by-dates on milk as shoppers told ‘use judgement’. (Photo: M&S UK)

According to Catherine David, Director Collaboration and Change at WRAP, milk is the third most wasted food in households behind potatoes and bread.

She said: “The main reason is not drinking before the Use-By date. By changing its British and organic fresh milk to a Best-Before date, M&S is instantly helping its customers save money and cut waste by giving them more time to consume the milk they buy.”

Ms David said M&S is making the change to help its customers avoid unnecessary household food waste “which currently tops more than 6.6 million tonnes each year across the UK.”

It comes after the retailer also removed best before dates across 300 of its fruit and veg lines last July.

The best before dates were replaced with a new code which M&S store colleagues use to ensure freshness and quality is maintained. It allowed customers to throw away less food at home by using their judgement on what’s still good to eat.

Asda followed suit and scrapped the label on 250 of its fresh fruit and veg products, while in 2020 Morrisons scrapped use by labels across its own-brand yoghurts and hard cheese ranges.

Tesco also announced the same initiative in April this year with ‘best before’ dates now on 30 own label yoghurt lines including Greek Style Yogurt 500g, Creamfields Greek Style Yogurt 500g, Creamfields Berry Medley Low Fat Yogurt 6x125g and Finest Lemon Curd Yogurt 150g.

Tesco said ditching ‘use by’ dates would “prevent perfectly edible food from being thrown away” and enable consumers to “use their own judgement on whether to eat a product”.

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