Major change as the Co-op is scrapping 'use by' dates on own-brand yogurt

A MAJOR supermarket is to scrap use-by dates on yogurts within weeks in a bid to reduce food waste.

The Co-op will remove the dates on own-brand yogurts, and replace it with a "best before" date in what it says is an industry first.

Many shoppers are confused about the difference between "use-by" and "best-before" dates, and could be throwing food away unnecessarily as a result.

"Use-by" dates are the most important to pay attention to. These are about product safety and the Foods Standards Agency says you shouldn't eat, cook or freeze food and drink past this date.

That's because the item has gone off and may contain bacteria, such as salmonella, which could make you unwell.

The "best before" date, meanwhile, is about quality rather than safety.

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It means the product is safe to eat, but might not be as fresh as it once was. It shouldn't make you ill.

Finally, "display until" or "sell by" dates are for the shop rather than the customer – these are typically guidance for staff and help stores manage stock control.

Nick Cornwell of the Co-op said: "Yogurt can be safe to eat if stored unopened in a fridge after the date mark shown, so we have made the move to best-before dates to help reduce food waste."

The grocer explained that the acidity of yogurt would act as anatural defence.

It said testing had shown it is safe to eat past its suggested expiry date, although there may be a change in quality.

The Co-op said six million people across the UK eat a yogurt everyday but research from charity Wrap suggests that half are thrown away unopened.

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Cornwell said: "We'd encourage shoppers to use their judgment on the quality of their yogurt if it is past the best-before date."

The Co-op said it would be encouraging more retailers and brands to review their on-pack guidance and move to best-before rather than use-by dates.

The change will come into effect from May and the full range will no longer have best before date by October this year.

But it is not the only supermarket chain to change its policy on these dates.

Morrisons recently did away with use-by labels on its own-brand milk, instead encouraging shoppers to use the "sniff test" to determine if it was still good to consume.

A curdled consistency or sour smell is a key sign the milk is spoiled.

But some customers had pointed out that this might be difficult if someone had lost their sense of smell, a common Covid symptom.

According to Wrap, potatoes and bread are the most wasted foods in the UK, and we throw out around 490million pints of milk every year.

That's a concern at a time when many households are struggling to cope with rising grocery costs.

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We have looked at ways to keep your shopping bill down, including by searching for yellow sticker bargains.

And we've rounded up the best time to visit the major supermarkets if you want to go when it's quietest.

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