When it's safe to use a 'sniff test' with food – and when it's not

Morrisons has announced it will be removing ‘use-by’ dates from milk packaging at the end of the month – in a bid to save millions of pints being needlessly thrown away every year.

Instead, the supermarket is encouraging people to do a simple ‘sniff test’ at home to see if it smells off – rather than relying on dates.

‘The “sniff test” is a practice that will work with a variety of the food in your kitchen and mainly operates with common sense,’ explains nutritionist Yalda Alaoui

And this method can be applied to other food groups, too.

In fact, nutritionist Gabriela Peacock very much champions using common sense – such as the sniff test – when it comes to food.

‘I think the “use-by” date is ridiculous – as a general rule, I completely ignore it,’ she tells Metro.co.uk.

‘Logically, you can see if fruit or vegetables are past it and I absolutely hate wasting food – I never waste anything.

‘I would say with dairy, meat and fish, you need to be just a little bit more careful because you can get food poisoning if you are wrong.’

It’s only natural to be a little anxious to solely rely on your own judgement.

But the two nutritionists have offered a little help on when to use the sniff test – as well as general advice on judging food.

Milk and dairy

‘I think generally with dairy products, if it’s off, it will be disgusting – and you’ll smell it straight away,’ explains Gabriela. ‘With milk, I would say a sniff test is sufficient.’

Gabriela adds that yoghurts can sometimes have more to them, than their sell-by dates would suggest.

‘I personally don’t have issues with yoghurts that are a little bit past their sell-by, as they are already slightly fermented,’ she adds.

Fruit and vegetables

‘Fruit and veg is an easy one to judge just by looking and feeling it,’ explains Yalda.

‘If it was once crunchy but now is limp or soft, then it is probably okay to eat but just in a different way. 

‘For example, carrots when you first buy them are crunchy and perfect for a salad – but over time they go soft. Instead of throwing them away you can use them in something they don’t have to be fresh for, like a soup or something cooked.’

A sniff test might not be needed for fruit and vegetables – as you can usually go off appearances. 

Meat and fish

Yalda stresses that meat and other animal produce differs from fruit and vegetables – as eating this type of food out of date can cause severe illness.

She continues: ‘With meat I find it is best to cook it within the first few days of purchase and then store it cooked, a meal that is perfect for this is bolognese.

‘With minced meat there is more chance of it going off once opened as there is more exposure to the air, therefore oxidation is quicker, it is easier to cook your mince early on and then store it in the freezer for later. 

‘The sniff test will work well with meat as it gives off a strong odour once it is past its best.

‘You should also look out for a change in colour, if you have any doubt with either of these then it is best to err on the side of caution and dispose of it.’

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