Marks & Spencer (M&S) has removed the use-by dates across its Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) Assured Select Farms British and organic fresh milk.

The change, which will see the ‘use-by’ dates replaced with ‘best-before’ dates, is being rolled out across all its UK stores from this week as part of the grocer’s commitment to halving food waste by 2030.

M&S started stocking RSPCA Assured milk back in 2017 and has slowly grown the range it offers of the assured products – which meet the RSPCA’s animal welfare standards.

Image: M&S

Director of collaboration and change at Waste & Resources Action programme (WRAP), Catherine David, said milk is the third most-wasted food in the home, with around 490 million pints poured down the drain every year.

This milk, she said, is worth £270 million and equates to 18 and a half per household every year. According to David, the reason this milk is wasted is because of the use of use-by dates instead of best-before dates.

“The main reason is not drinking before the use-by date,” she said.

“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,” she said.

“WRAP’s joint best practice with the Food Standards Agency, Defra (The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) 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.”

Food waste

M&S has said it is targeting a 50% reduction in food waste by 2030, with 100% of edible surplus to be redistributed by 2025 as part of its roadmap to net zero.

Plan A, launched in 2007, has seen the retailer promise to commit to tackling issues like food waste, plastic packaging and maintaining animal welfare standards.

Director of corporate affairs at M&S, Victoria McKenzie-Gould, said: “Since we launched Plan A in 2007, we’ve been taking action on our roadmap to net zero and on the issues that matter most to our customers.

“It’s never a job done but over the past year our colleagues have done a fantastic job – from being first to market on higher welfare chicken to removing 75m units of plastic packaging.

“We know tackling food waste is a priority for our customers and we’re confident that these small changes to the packaging of our RSPCA Assured fresh milk, will make a big difference – as seen when we led the way in the removal of best before dates on our fruit and vegetables.”