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NICKY MARR: Do you sniff your milk for freshness?

By Nicky Marr

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Mike bottles on doorstep
Mike bottles on doorstep

Hands up if you don’t sniff the milk before making a cup of tea?

I thought so – that’s barely a hand up across the whole of the north of Scotland.

Like locking the bathroom door, plugging your phone in to charge before bed, or licking the bowl after baking a cake, it’s just something we do automatically.

Because there’s nothing more irritating than having blind faith in a “use by” date, then seeing those tiny specs of milk solids float to the surface of your first cuppa of the day.

What a waste of a teabag.

What a waste of standing by the kettle for five minutes, shivering in your nightie, having to start again.

Assuming there’s another bottle in the fridge, of course.

So, it makes sense that Morrisons supermarkets, purveyors of fine “wonky veg” and irritating “disintegrate-on-contact paper bags”, are to scrap the “use by” dates on their own-brand milk, in favour of the sniff test.


According to recycling charity Wrap, milk is the third most wasted foodstuff in the UK, after bread and potatoes.

Apparently, a lot of that waste is unnecessary, with milk that’s beyond it’s “used by” date still being absolutely fine to drink.

The charity estimates that an astounding 85 million usable pints go down our sinks every year.

Anything that cuts that waste gets my support.

Nicky Marr starting new venture in coaching..Picture: Gary Anthony..
Nicky Marr starting new venture in coaching..Picture: Gary Anthony..

But we shoppers won’t be left entirely to our own devices.

We won’t be faced with a sea of dateless bottles and forced either to carry out sniff tests in-store, or play the lactose equivalent of Russian Roulette by choosing a carton that has been “maturing” since last February.

To comply with food safety standards, milk will still have to carry “best before” dates.

The news created quite a stir when it was announced, but in reality nothing much has changed, other than there being slightly increased chances of white floaters in our tea.

What this story does, though, is highlight – again – the hideous food waste we create as a nation.

Bread? Potatoes? Is there really an excuse for it?

In truth we waste very little in our house.

That’s not just because I’m tight (hit me with your best Aberdonian jokes – I’ve heard them all) it’s because I love cooking, respect quality ingredients, and get a perverse buzz from making meals entirely from leftovers.

Leftover bread is either sliced into bread and butter pudding (useful for using up excess milk and eggs too) or blitzed with garlic, herbs, butter, and seeds and frozen to sprinkle over veggie bakes later.

Leftover veg is cooked in stock, and liquidised to make random soups, and leftover cheese (a rare thing indeed) is baked into cheese scones to eat with that soup.

There’s not much that can’t be frozen or salvaged; I’m not beyond burying sprouted tatties in the garden in the hope they’ll reproduce.

My bugbear is salad – those cellophane-wrapped bags of salad.

Turn my back for two minutes, and they become inedible slime.

It’s an expensive way to make compost.

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