Brits are happy to eat food a week past its sell-by date, study reveals

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  • Brits aren't bothered about sell-by dates, with many consuming foods up to 10 days after the recommended time limit, new research has revealed.

    Researchers who polled 2,000 adults found we will comfortably consume cheese 10 days after its ‘best before’ date, bread five days past its best and fish three days after its freshest.

    It also emerged Brits will cook raw meat three days past its use by date and consume butter as many as 10 days later.

    Fruit and vegetables are regularly enjoyed nine days past their recommended shelf-life, while fruit juice is considered ‘good’ for seven extra days.

    Despite this, the research commissioned by Arla Cravendale nearly one third of UK households admitted they end up throwing away food on a weekly basis because it hasn’t lasted as long as they hoped it would.

    It also emerged milk and bread are being wasted more than any other products, in line with figures from sustainability charity WRAP which found 490 million pints of milk are wasted every year in the home.

    Emma Stanbury from Arla Cravendale said: “It’s always a shame when things go to waste, especially when it comes to fresh foods such as milk, that haven’t lasted as long as we hoped.

    “We are often told by consumers that they feel guilty when have to pour milk away.

    “However, making small changes at home means we can all help to play a part, such as switching to products that stay fresher for longer.”

    Brits food sell-by-dates

    Credit: Getty

    The study also found just under two thirds admitted to regularly pouring milk down the drain or chopping mouldy bits from bread because it has already gone past its best.

    But, in an attempt to salvage milk that has been sat in the fridge for a few days, two-thirds will perform a ‘sniff’ test, while three in 10 will have a quick sip of their milk to see if it’s on the way out.

    WRAP estimates that using fresh filtered milk, which has a shelf life of 21 days unopened compared to standard fresh milk that has a shelf life of 14 days unopened, can reduce the amount of household milk that is thrown away by around 80 per cent.

    The Arla Cravendale research also found that food wastage is a hot topic for the future of the environment, with two thirds of Brits riddled with guilt for wasting food that has gone past its best.

    And, half wish that they did more to help prevent this.

    In an attempt to prevent food being binned, 35 per cent shop only as they need, buying little and often, while 29 per cent buy food that has a longer shelf life.

    But, despite continuous efforts to try and prevent food waste, six in 10 admit that food going past it’s best is the main reason they throw it away.

    And just under half estimate that 10 per cent of their household groceries get chucked every week because of this.

    It also emerged more than three quarters of those polled, via OnePoll, said they hate throwing away food because it’s a waste of money.

    And more than half agreed it’s bad for the environment.

    Kate Colquhoun, author of The Thrifty Cookbook and campaigner against food waste, said: “Food waste is still a barely discussed part of the environmental jigsaw, yet the cost to our purses and our world is vast.

    “There are so many small practical things we can do to minimise the amount we each chuck out.

    “When it comes to milk, it’s not just about the amount you buy, or the temperature of the fridge…fresh filtered milk simply lasts longer, making it more likely that all of it gets used, and less gets poured down the plug’”.

    How many days or weeks Brits will eat foods/drinks out of date:

    Cheese – 10 days

    Milk – 3 days

    Bread – 5 days

    Butter – 10 days

    Eggs – 8 days

    Yoghurt – 5 days

    Vegetables/fruit – 9 days

    Fruit juice – 7 days

    Raw meat – 3 days

    Cooked meat – 4 days

    Fish – 3 days

    Sweets – 12 weeks

    Chocolate – 11 weeks

    Crisps – 10 weeks

    Cured meat – 4 weeks

    Cereal – 10 weeks

    Biscuits – 9 weeks

    Soft/fizzy drinks – 11 weeks

    Dried herbs and spices – 14 weeks

    Tinned food – 13 weeks

    Dried fruit – 12 weeks

    Dipping sauces – 10 weeks

    To find out more about how you can reduce your kitchen waste, visit