Source: Sainsbury’s 

The retailer will transition 44 products to the new labelling between January and February 2024

Sainsbury’s has announced it will switch from use-by dates to best-before dates across its own-label milk range in a move it said would help reduce food waste in the home.

The retailer will transition 44 products, including all fresh and organic milk sold across England, Scotland, and Wales, to the new labelling between January and February 2024.

Covering the more than 730 million pints of milk sold by Sainsbury’s every year, it said it was now the biggest UK retailer to undertake the switch.

Sainsbury’s cited research by waste charity Wrap from 2015, which showed milk was the third most wasted food in the UK, with over 490 million pints thrown away each year, often because the milk has passed its use-by date.

The switch would therefore seek to “prevent customers from pouring away pints that are still safe to consume, giving them more time to use up their milk at home”, it said.

Sainsbury’s will be encouraging shoppers to follow the FSA’s guidance, which recommends using sensory cues to see if milk with a best-before date label has gone bad – for example, by sniffing the product.

“Around a third of all food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted,” said Ruth Cranston, director of corporate responsibility & sustainability at Sainsbury’s.

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“Combatting food waste is one of our top priorities and we are continuously innovating to tackle this issue, all the way from farms and suppliers, right to our customers’ homes. By switching to best-before dates on our milk we are empowering customers to make their own decisions on whether their food is good to eat, helping to prevent them from disposing of food too early.”

The move was welcomed by Catherine David, director of behaviour change & business programmes at Wrap: “Wasting food feeds climate change and costs money – with the average family spending over £730 a year on good food which ends up in the bin. Our research shows applying the appropriate date label to products can help reduce the amount of good food that is thrown away.”

It comes as Sainsbury’s completed the roll out of its new clear milk caps last month, meaning all its own-label skimmed, semi-skimmed and whole milk is now sold with a recyclable cap.

Sainsbury’s made a similar switch to best-before dates on its own-label yoghurts last year, as well as removing best-before dates entirely from over 1,500 products including fresh produce lines such as pineapples, pumpkins, and apples.

Other retailers to have made similar moves with their milk offerings include M&S, Waitrose and Morrisons, while Arla announced a switch to “sniff tests” across its branded milks in 2019.