/ Food & Drink

Is the ‘sniff test’ a good substitute for use-by dates?

Morrisons is to scrap the use-by date on milk in order to reduce food waste. Are you happy to rely on your nose, or are you keen to have a cut-off date?

Ordinarily I’m all for reducing the amount of waste I produce, but I have personally found it a little bit jarring to read that Morrisons plans to scrap the use-by date on its milk.

Even before the pandemic my sense of smell was never great. Often the first I’d discover my milk had gone off would be in the form of a terrible cup of tea or a rancid bowl of cereal. For me it’s reassuring to have a clear cut-off date, so I wondered what was behind such a bold change.

Third most-wasted product

According to Wrap, around 490 million pints of milk are wasted every year, with an estimated 85 million of those possibly due to customers following the use-by label.

That’s roughly 19 Olympic size swimming pools of milk wasted based on the date alone.  

Food has a large carbon footprint, either from it being transported, or from the production of the food itself, so the more we can do to reduce the impact of what we eat will undoubtedly have a benefit.

Sniff before you buy?

Looking at social media, it’s easy to see that the headline has raised a lot of questions, but once you get passed those headlines, it’s not really that much of a change at all. It’s important to note the date isn’t actually going away: rather than a use-by, the date will be a best before date instead.

It’s also very unlikely that supermarkets will actually sell milk past this date either and, even if this is the case, I’ve been assured by Shefalee Loth, Which?’s nutrition expert, that even on its best before date milk is perfectly safe to drink. In fact it’s safe to drink after this too – it will taste and smell awful before it does you any harm.

I also wonder – will I even notice this change? It’s certainly made me think and reflect on how much milk I do throw away, so maybe I have indeed hit a used-by date for use-by dates.

Do you use the sniff test on dairy milk?
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Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

28 February 2022

why do people have to be told a use by date it is common sense when something is off. I know people who through yogurts away if the use by date 1st of the month through it away on the 1st, waste of money do people think at 12 mid night it is not safe to eat .please everybody should use common sense . Vegetables , you can tell when not to use them ,if getting towards end of their best blanch them and freeze , don’t waste food or money.