Milk bottle labels will change colour to warn people if their fridge is too warm under a new trial to reduce the amount which goes sour and gets tipped down the sink.
The colour-changing labels will start appearing on supermarket bottles from next year, according to waste reduction charity Wrap, which is developing them with retailers and dairies.
The so-called “thermochronic” labels, which contain heat sensitive ink, are being developed after Wrap conducted research concluding that households are throwing away £25 million of unconsumed milk a year, which goes off while sitting in the fridge.
The most common reason for unnecessary milk waste are warm fridges, Wrap said. Typical fridges in UK homes are operating at 2°C warmer than the temperature recommended by the Food Standards Agency guideline of between 0-5 degrees, it is claimed.
Wrap added that many people don’t know what temperature their fridge is running at or have any easy way of knowing how to set it to the right temperature. The labels will sit on the sleeve of milk bottles and will tell consumers if their fridge is too warm by changing colour.
They are currently undergoing scientific testing to decide what colour, size and shape they will take. If they are successful they could be rolled out by all dairies in the UK at a later date.
Meanwhile the UK’s biggest dairy, Arla, said it was working on developing a new seal which would turn “bumpy” when milk had gone off, potentially mitigating the need for a use-by date.
Andrew Parry, a special advisor on food and drink at Wrap, said, “Making sure our fridges are running at the right temperature (below 5oC) could help reduce the amount of milk thrown away by more than 50,000 tonnes a year, saving householders at least £25 million.
Innovations like thermochromic inks could alert people to the fact that their fridge is running too warm, and tools such as the one developed by Love Food Hate Waste (part of the Chill the Fridge Out campaign) make it easy to change the temperature setting.
As most of us take milk out of the fridge several times a day it’s the ideal ‘hero product’ to provide compelling visual messages to people, but getting our fridges operating at the optimum temperature will also benefit many other types of food and drink. Industry is exploring the potential for on-shelf trials of thermochromic inks with milk.”
Source: The Telegraph