Marks & Spencer has ditched ‘Use By’ dates on its milk, telling shoppers to sniff it instead to tell if it can still be used.

The change, being rolled out across all M&S UK stores this week, will affect its RSPCA Assured Select Farms British and organic fresh milk as part of its commitment to halving food waste by 2030 and reaching net zero by 2040.

The milk will have ‘Best Before’ dates rather than ‘Use By’ dates.

M&S is the first retailer to offer ‘Best Before’ labelling on fully recyclable milk bottles, following the removal of coloured plastic caps on milk earlier this year.

The combination of improved shelf life and overall quality of milk in recent years has enabled M&S to make the change to ‘Best Before’ dates, which means customers can use their judgement before throwing away milk which may be too good to waste.


UK homes are estimated to waste over 490 million pints of milk a year according to WRAP, and M&S is making the change to help its customers avoid unnecessary waste.

In 2017 M&S became the first to stock RSPCA Assured milk, and today M&S offers more RSPCA Assured products, which meet the RSPCA’s strict animal welfare standards, than any other retailer.

Catherine David, Director Collaboration and Change, WRAP: “Milk is the third most wasted food in the home behind potatoes and bread, with around 490 million pints poured down the drain every year - 18 and a half per household - worth £270 million.

“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.

“WRAP’s joint Best Practice with the Food Standards Agency, Defra and Dairy UK states to only apply a Use-By date when required for food safety reasons, and it’s fantastic to see M&S - a Courtauld 2030 signatory - making this switch.

“This type of change to labelling is fundamental in helping people reduce household food waste, which currently tops more than 6.6 million tonnes each year across the UK.”

In July last year, M&S removed best before dates across over 300 fruit and veg lines. These were replaced with a new code which M&S store colleagues use to ensure freshness and quality is maintained while allowing customers to throw away less food at home by using their judgement on what’s still good to eat.