Online products close to expiry date

Hi, I’m so over Coles only that I’ve used for over 10 years. Over the last few month I am consistently getting milk that expires 2-4 days after delivery. I’ve emailed their customer care every time and continue to get the old line “we take this matter seriously”. I do get a refund but that’s not the point. It’s inconvenient to have to buy more milk, it’s disgusting to have to throw out some milk down the drain. I was sure it had to be at least 5 days after delivery for it to expire? Today I rang the online manager who really didn’t care and questioned the validity of my claim. I’ve also emailed customer care and said I want this situation escalated to a higher level. I’ve also said it’s no wonder they are coming third on Choices list of best retailers but that didn’t seem to phase them either. So, it’s time for me to try Woolworths.


This is also one of the reasons I have abandoned Coles (mostly) as my online supermarket. I’m sure the “pickers” are told to go as close to the expiry as possible. These days I mostly go with Woolworths, because they have a “delivery now” thing and the cost o delivery is the same as I would pay i I was getting it next day or next week (here, at least, its $15 and delivery ends up being via ubereats or yello). The other Woolies advantage is being able to leave a note for the personal shopper with regard to your preferences. I have notes saying long expiry please for meat and dairy stuff, and for bananas a bit green but not inedible bright green (for example). Most of the time they manage to get it right.

A few weeks back I got some extras… I was puzzled… I’d ordered a 1/4 watermelon and only 4 zucchini but the picker had given me a half watermelon and 8 zucchini. And a block of chocolate with a note attached explaining why, god bless her!! It’s only happened once but was greatly appreciated :slight_smile:

I shuld look into the free delivery thing but I think you have to spend more than I do, on each shop. I have minimal storage space and I think thats why I abandoned the idea in the past, but I’m on the brink of reconsidering.


I join you with selecting milk with long use-by dates. A 2L jug lasts over a week for us. Our Woolies stock consistently has 5-10 days use-by dates beyond Coles stock. We often see only 3-5 days at Coles, rarely that short (ever?) at Woolies. There may be a clue as to why in the ariafoods link below even though my understanding is most milk is all the same from the same sources and processing plants, excepting the labelling, marketing and profit margins.

That being written there is nothing special suggesting the milk is bad at those dates and it may be perfectly good for days beyond. To minimise unnecessary ‘binning’ of perfectly good milk by those adhering to the date the UK has removed the requirement for a use-by date and now allows a best-by date in lieu. Expect our laws to follow.

There has been consumer push back in the UK in response, and I understand why.

All that being written, neither of us nor probably others who pay attention will change our preferences for the longer use-by or best-by dated product.


Thank you for your reply and making my decision to go with Woolworths much easier. I really don’t know what Coles are thinking when they treat long term customers like me the way they have. I’m waiting for a response to my escalated complaint. I’ll keep you posted :pray::pray:


One member of our household is now in and out like a one armed fiddler’s elbow, so we have slowed down our milk consumption to about two litres a day.

We buy marked down (close to use-by date) ‘normal’ milk as often as we can find it. Occasionally we manage to bag a whole bunch of the discounted milk and have used it well over a week after the ‘best by’ date as proposed in @PhilT 's first link. Possibly because we immediately return the milk to the fridge after use, I don’t remember having milk that has gone off.


Good luck with it Mare be interested to see how it goes as to me it seems they do everything to suit them not us. However I did last night order from Coles online and managed to spend over $200, couldn’t get it delivered till Saturday because the Thursday and Friday delivery dates were all marked Partner delivery and wouldn’t allow some of my items. If I had read the posts on here before that I maybe would’ve changed my mind about Coles.


We have swapped between the two, basically have decided to try not to get milk home delivered from either of them due to the ludicrously short shelf life of delivered milk the few times we have ordered it. I’m at the office usually a couple of days a week and stop off at a bakery for bread and milk where I select the use by date on the way home.


I shop at Woolies for my convenience and had the same problem with certain brands.
I only want to buy milk from Australian companies that are not owned by overseas companies, so this places a limit on what I can purchase. Farmers Own, Woolworths brand, and Pura is my limit.
However, of the three brands, Farmers Own always goes off quickly before the “use by date”.
I prefer not to buy the Woolworths brand, though it’s cheaper, so they cannot monopolies the milk market and it does seem more watery than other brands. So, Pura is the only one that stands out and is 95% fresh most of the time, though it is more expensive than the other two brands. I sometimes wonder, if Woolworths purposely sabotages the Farmers Own brand, since price-wise is only a little more expensive than their brand. If you want to purchase a good Australian brand, PURA is the way go.


Seeing online order fillers working in supermarkets, they grab the front product from the shelves. It is common practice in supermarkets to position older products (with shorter use by dates) at the front of shelves - I often see staff doing this regularly, that being sorting products so oldest is at the front.

Supermarkets do this to ensure food isn’t wasted or out of date items are hidden at the back of shelves.

If a online order filler grabs the front product on a shelf, it will be the one in store with the shortest use by date. I don’t think giving shorter use by dated products to online customers is intentional, but how supermarket manage stock on their shelves.


I started using Coles click and collect during the lock downs and found it so convenient I kept using it until recently. I went from ordering everything on the click and collect to only ordering non perishables and then going into the store to buy dairy, chicken and any thing else that has a use-by date because I was sick of unpacking my groceries only to find that use-by dates were very close to expiry.
This was very inconvenient, I live a 240k round trip away so it’s not like I could just jump in the car and ask for a replacement.
I now shop less frequently and make the effort to drive a bit further to shop at Aldi and top up at Woolworths. I’ve been a Coles shopper all my adult life.


I pretty much ignore the use-by dates on my milk as they’re so conservative and it’s easy to tell milk that’s past its prime just by sniffing it. I’m happy to buy discounted milk that’s near its use-by date in order to save money, as the milk always seems to last at least another 5 days beyond that. I don’t use the same approach with meat, however!


Thanks for your thoughts. Unfortunately, I’m a bit wary about sniff tests. However, I agree that meat definitely needs to have it done as we’ve had a few times that it was within the guidelines but definitely was off.


Try Aldi - since shopping there I’ve discovered their use by dates are twice as long as Colesworth which means the produce is not sitting in cold storage or going up and down the country going from producer to warehouse to supermarket warehouse and then retail shelves. Milk almost always has a use by date of 3 weeks at least which would suggest Aldi has a faster supply chain.

1 Like

That isn’t the reason why and Aldi does follow this model of sourcing. If it didn’t, farmers would be delivering their produce direct to store - this doesn’t happen for any if the big supermarkets.

Instead Aldi uses modified atmosphere in many of its packaged items. Other supermarkets are also following this trend with prepackaged fresh foods.

Whilst modified atmosphere packaging improves shelf live and possibly food waste, it does come at a cost. I posted here why we avoid such packaging:

And Aldi currently don’t offer home delivery services in Australia.

Aldi’s milk is in the same packaging as the other supermarkets - 1 litre cartons or plastic bottles. And I don’t buy anything prepackaged.

1 Like

Thanks to everyone for providing me with such great information. I think I’ll be buying my milk in store in future. However, I’m definitely going to Woolworths online for everything else due to the poor customer service from Coles plus the information from Choice. Thanks again everyone.

When I was a struggling Uni student, I often had milk that would eventually go off. The simplest test was when I was making coffee or tea - make the beverage first (or just some boiling water) and then add milk. If it curdles, it’s off!

So many offers from Coles but when you try to access them they say the items are not in the catalogue. When I show them copy of email I am told "sorry but we can only offer what is in catalogue. Woolies not so bad.
Johnnie H

One key factor which can make milk go off is its temperature. Milk should be kept in the fridge at <4°C. If it left out and allowed to warm when using, it will also substantially shorten its storage life.

Often milk is stored in fridge doors which are can be warmer than other parts of the fridge. While the door might be good for less temperature critical beverages, it can cause milk to spoil quicker.

If you live in a warmer climate, warming of the milk on route from the shop to the home can also impact on storage life. The further one lives from the place of purchase, the warmer the milk has the potential to get. Insulated bags/eskies can assist with maintaining milk temperature during transport.

The other consideration is buy milk last when shopping. This means it isn’t sitting in a trolley/basket for some time within the store before leaving, again allowing it to warm.

It is worth using a thermometer from time to time where one stores milk - to check that it is being stored at the optimum temperature.

There is always UHT milk as well which has a long shelf life before opening.

l buy all my groceries online for delivery, Woollies…except milk (and meat). l have a bit of thing about fresh milk and grab it from the back of the shelf for the freshest batch. l also reckon milk has to be “snap your head back” cold, like beer :beers: