Use By or not Use By? That is the question!

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What To Do
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If you watch The One Show, you may have seen the presenters and actor David Tennant using their noses to decide whether to drink milk - or not! The story hit the headlines and was featured on the BBC’s popular programme following the announcement that changes to food packaging and labels could save UK households £1 billion annually.

Research by WRAP, the people behind Love Food Hate Waste, suggests that these ‘technical’ changes, which help us to buy the right amount and use up what we buy, could save around 350,000 tonnes of good food from ending up in the bin.

So, how does changing a date label help to reduce food waste?

Almost half of the 4.4 million tonnes of good food wasted from our homes each year happens because we don’t use it in time, and in one-third of those instances a date label is given as the reason why.

Moving from a Use By to a Best Before - where safe to do so - gives us more flexibility to eat food after the date; and it’s already happened with some cheeses and pasteurised fruit juice.

Simply put: we are less likely to waste food if it has a Best Before rather than a Use By date.

Love Food Hate Waste is calling on the industry to review: the date on products that currently have a Use By that are wasted in high volumes and which could move to Best Before; advice to consumers on the shelf-life of products before and after opening; and availability and pricing of smaller/split packs for foods wasted in large amounts largely due to not being used in time, such as bread.

So, what’s the advice?

A Use By date on a product is there for food safety reasons. You can eat it right up to the Use By, but not after - even if it looks and smells fine.

Best Before, on the other hand, is about quality and food should be safe to eat after the date, but it may no longer be at its best.

If you’re finding it tricky to make the most of your milk, here are our five steps to success:

  • Check your fridge temperature. It needs to be below 5 degrees C. If your fridge doesn’t have a thermometer, get one and see.
  • Think about how much milk you’re buying. Try buying smaller bottles. If you’re worried, buy two smaller bottles and freeze one as insurance!
  • Speaking of freezing – you can freeze milk (before the Use By).
  • If you’re freezing a lotta bottle, take a bit out first (brew anyone?) to allow room for expansion.
  • If you’ve got a small amount left, freeze it in ice cube trays – you can pop a cube or two straight into your tea or coffee!
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