Crying over spoilt milk

The curse of 'off' milk is one that is familiar to most of us. But how can it be overcome? In this nation of tea drinkers, milk is an indispensible item in most households. And, while some opt for soya milk or UHT, the vast majority prefers fresh cow's milk.

The problem being, of course, that cow's milk doesn't stay fresh forever. Indeed, there can't be many of us who haven't tentatively sniffed the milk bottle in the hope of it being fresh, only to recoil with disgust when it becomes clear that it is not. And it is precisely this scenario that leads to British households wasting 330,000 tonnes of milk every year. This so-called 'British milk lake', which is the equivalent of over 373 Olympic swimming pools, creates mass milk waste that contributes to approximately 190,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions. Of these 330,000 tonnes, 170,000 tonnes per annum are lost due to the product being thrown away products because it has not been used in time. The problem, of course, is that there are a number of factors involved in keeping milk fresh. The temperature at which it is kept is vital, of course, as it how it has been processed, how long it has been on the supermarket's shelf and even how it is packaged. All these factors lead to wastage and unnecessary expense. The Challenge Our challenge this month, therefore, is to come up with a means of determining the condition of your milk without sniffing or tasting it, allowing the consumer to make a more informed judgement about when to use their milk. Of course, the solution could be based on the odours and gases given off by the milk. Perhaps some sort of artificial 'nose' able to tell the difference between good and spoilt milk? Such a device may be possible, but it would be ruinously expensive for the average householder. In conjunction with a leading designer, a British company has come up with a device to achieve this. The idea behind it is simple, but effective and uses a technology most of us will be familiar with from our school days. Across the UK, the invention could represent a reduction of up to 100,000 tonnes in milk wastage per year, which in turn would reduce the UK's carbon footprint by approximately 190,000 tonnes of C02 (2% of the nation's total carbon footprint). The solution will appear in next month's issue. In the meantime, see if you can come up with anything better.