Citizen insights on how 'Use By' and 'Best Before' date labels impact decisions to use or dispose of yogurt and milk.

The purpose of this research was to determine the extent to which the type of date label influences disposal choices made by citizens and inform recommendations for actions as well as best practices within the retail environment that could help reduce household food waste.

  • In the UK, 70% of post-farm gate food waste comes from households.
  • 41% (by weight) of the food wasted from households arises from products “not used in time” – thrown away because it has gone off or has passed the date label.
  • Some of this wasted food is the result of people using date labels in a way that they are not intended to be used e.g., using a 'Best-Before' date as a ‘disposal date’ for a product.

Several dairy businesses have switched, or are considering switching, date labels from 'Use By' to 'Best Before' on milk and yogurt to help their customers to use these products safely for longer and reduce waste in the home.


We found that when people are aware of the difference between a 'Use-By' and a 'Best-Before' date, having a 'Best-Before' label on dairy products is an effective way to reduce food waste in the home.

  • For milk, only 31% of people would dispose of milk one day past the 'Best-Before' date compared to almost half (47%) for the same milk one day past a 'Use-By' date.
  • For yogurt, more than half of people (53%) would dispose of an item one day past a 'Use-By' date, compared to just 34% for the same yogurt one day past a 'Best-Before' date.
  • There is an issue is when people don’t understand the difference between the two dates. In these instances, respondents may treat a 'Use-By' and 'Best-Before' date the same way when it comes to disposal decisions.

The report shows the importance of not only working to apply a 'Best-Before' label where safe to do so on more dairy items, but in helping people understand and feel more confident to use their own judgement when they do see the 'Best-Before' label on milk and yogurt.

WRAP’s updated best practice labelling guidance for milk, yogurt and cheese shows exactly how the information on pack can help communicate this important subtle change to people at home.

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  • Citizen insights on 'Use By' and 'Best Before' dates on dairy products

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