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After “Expired Food” at Greek Supermarkets, Time for “Expired Milk”!!!

We all have this experience: fresh milk goes bad two or three days after expiration date. Taste turns bitter, fat and water particles separate. We throw it away. This summer during the heat waves I made the unique experience that fresh milk went bad inside the refrigerator even before the expiration date, even before I had opened the milk carton. Now Greece plans to change this and extend the 5-days expiration up to 9-days. Target of the government is to reduce the prices for fresh milk in times of economic crisis and recession. With 1.30-1.80 euro per liter – supermarket price-, Greeks buy the most expensive milk in the European Union.

Five years ago, prices were even higher, with 2 euro per liter! 

“The Government opens the closed market of fresh milk by lifting the maximum duration of 5 days, the expired date according to which pasteurized/fresh milk is been sold to consumers.

According to information, Minister of Rural Development and Food Athanasios Tsaftaris and deputy Development Minister Thanasis Skordas are in progressed talks and agree to change the legal framework.

Target of the government is to decrease the milk prices and open the market also for foreign imports and sales by cooperatives to the big cities.Greece has the most expensive milk in the EU.

The general price difference is 31% higher in Greece, while in absolute sizes it reaches even 70%.In Belgium, Austria and Spain fresh milk is sold at 0.99 euro, in Germany and Holland at 0.89 euro.

In Greece the average price is 1.50 euro.

[The Greek Government claims that] the EU has not legal framework or official document determining the highest limit of milk duration days.The status of five days exists only in Greece (according to law 113/1999 that describes the pasteurization procedures and put the maximum duration date.

Following this law, milk producing companies describe the milk as ‘fresh’ something that does not apply to other EU countries.

There, pasteurized milk has duration 9-10 duration days. 

According to Minister Tsaftaris the milk must be sold with several indications like “fresh milk” with 2 or 2 or 5 or 10 days.These indications will allow the consumer to decide for the product s/he considers as “fresh”.

The reasoning of the Ministry is that the high milk prices are due to the limited duration that forces the companies to withdraw tonnes of milk form supermarket shelves. (

And when I though high milk prices were due to uncontrolled profit and high transportation costs (see: “closed professions”) as we’ve been told the whole time, here come the Ministries of Development and Food to show me I have no idea…

EU Regulations on Fresh Milk/Raw Milk

For one more time I admit I am unable to find the EU regulations concerning the milk descriptions, production procedures and duration of fresh milk. For one more time, I saw me enforced to have to go through thousands of pages and dozens of Pfd without easy to find results. 

Therefore I checked with the milk regulations in Germany as it has very clear rules about the milk. BTW: In one can find fresh milk sold at 0.48 euro. 

Of course, and despite what the ministry claims, there is the description of Fresh Milk – otherwise I would have bought the so-called “H-Milch” for years. H-Milch refers to 2-3 seconds heating at 135 degrees C with duration of 3 months.It refers to the pasteurization process according to which milk is being heat for 15-30 seconds at 72-75 degrees Celsius.In an unopened carton the milk has duration 6-10 days. in opened carton duration of 2-4 days.These is also the ESL-Milk, fresh milk with longer duration, heated for 2 seconds at 127 degrees C and immediately heat again at 90 degrees C.

KTG understands that the milk duration has directly to do with the heating process. If the Minister for Food & other nonsense will not change these regulations, I would rather soak my breakfast cereals in water…

UPDATE: Greek Rural Development and Food Minister Athanasios Tsaftaris dismissed the news on Milk with extended life. Please, Click here to read the whole statement as received by KTG in the afternoon.

Last week Greece’s Development Ministry legalized the sale of expired food, up to 3 months after expiry date.

Politics… Politics…

At the end of the day, KTG sees efforts by Development Minister (Nea Dimocratia) to reduce the prices of food items due to the harsh austerity the citizens are suffering and thus at any cost. And especially without previously consulting the Rural Development & Food Ministry (PASOK).

I long for the time when expired medication will be legal and thus before Greece expires as country, as state, as a whole.

PS they must be spraying us with ‘expired’ spray. Otherwise I see no reason why we chew, swallow and drink expired food and milk without reaction. Not to mention that the government takes advantage of the striking lack of knowledge among citizens of this country about EU regulations and consumers’ rights.

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  1. No link, but I think the Italians went through this a couple of years ago. It was revealed that big supermarkets were using imported milk that was over the “fresh” date. There was a consumer backlash.

  2. OK lets get one thing straight, The milk that is bought in the supermarkets has already been returned to the factory for “Re-boiling” lift up a carton or milk and look at the bottom there are 1-9 in numbers one of the numbers is missing. This missing number denotes how many times this milk has been re-boiled by the milk factory before being put back on the super market shelves for unknowing shoppers. The only fresh milk that you can but is direct from the cow and I doubt whether they even sell this. This applies to all fruit juices as well. Take a look the next time you are out shopping. Wake up….We are being sold expired products every day without knowing it !

    • YUCKS!

    • The only fresh milk that you can buy is direct from the cow and I doubt whether they even sell this.

      It’s illegal to sell this, diseases and all that, you know.

      Strangely enough, raw milk does contain Lactase, the enzyme needed to process the sugar lactose, and is therefore actually safe for lactose intolerant people. Pasteurizing the milk (a legal requirement) kills this enzyme, and is the one single cause of an explosion in lactose intolerant patients, which is of course good news for the pharmaceutical industry and the so called “speciality” foods. Not so good for the purse of hard pressed Joe Soap…

      • buying raw milk direct from the cow farm is legal in some EU countries and has a expiry date of 1-2 days.
        PS I’m astonished about all the things I learn being the owner of this blog 🙂

        • Indeed, you are right on the expiry, kind of. It depends on the country. But there are many more “requirements” to obtaining a license to sell raw milk (you can’t just go and do it, it costs to be “allowed”).
          Italy, for example requires the customer to boil the raw milk prior to using it, killing the whole “raw milk” concept. The storage requirements are stringent, the very popular vending machines are now not allowed anymore, etc. The FSAI (Irish food safety authority) recently refused a request under the freedom of information act to release the info and drafts it has on the rumoured regulation outright banning the sale again. Thereby of course confirming the rumours….
          The “permission” to sell raw milk did in fact come about because of a liberal legal interpretation (in Italy) of another EU directive from 2004 re consumer choice etc. It would seem that that loop hole is now going to be plugged. Can’t go selling things that might be healthy for people. It would damage the pharma industry…

    • David, can you share how you know this. This would be helpful.

      • Hi Smithers,
        go to any supermarket and take a carton of milk to the manager and ask them to explain the meaning of the numbers on the bottom (1 to 9) with one number missing. I was informed by a shopper in our local My Market and I researched this there was a TV program on this very subject. I have also spoken to other shoppers and they have confirmed this and some obviously did not know it. I have never found one with a number lower than 2 missing meaning that it was boiled (Pasturised) again a second time.

        • keeptalkinggreece

          what difference does it make if 2 or 8 boiled? I assume first of all all components like vitamines etc are being destroyed from too much boiling? does it affect taste? anything else? we end up drinking a plain white liquid?

          • KTG, Oh it makes a big difference in terms of how long they can keep this “Milk?” in circulation. As to whats in there after being “re-boiled” is anybodies guess. Would be interesting to have an analysis done just to find the differences. As for the sale of Fresh milk direct from the farms this is something I still remember, wasn’t that long ago. Consider this, If the farms sell their milk fresh with a limited life expectancy, the production companies would soon see people buying from the small farmers and not from super markets, obviously those that have the possibility. I grew up on fresh milk from the farm and have never had TB or any other disease that the big industry leaders (and Politicians)say are possible to get from unpastuerised milk. Makes you think doesn’t it ?

          • keeptalkinggreece

            I’m sure some guys have made analysis if not anybody else certainly German consumers organisations.
            maybe people with the possibility do indeed buy directly from small local farms. But except from the freshness for the consumer, I don’t think it helps the milk production sector in terms of finances.
            which of the number at the bottom shows the ‘re-boiling’? I see a whole chain of numbers&letters.
            I think I know somebody to ask about.

          • KTG on the bottom diagonally there are the numbers 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 one of them will be missing, this is the amount of times that is has been “recycled”. There are no letters in the chain of numbers. Some companies hide the numbers in the folds of the carton….clever eh?

          • keeptalkinggreece

            well… I checked with a reliable source on this issue today: the numbers show which factory machine produced that particular milk. If one load goes bad/unhealthy or whatever, the production source can be easily identified and concerned milk been withdrawn.

            Assuming thousands of tetrapack milk are expired on Oct18. Can you imagine the cost of the company to find out which ones went bad/sour etc, separate them and re-pasteurize for sale again?

            it sounds logical to me.

        • Do they do the same in USA/UK?

  3. I think your blowing this out of proportion. If your local supermarket is selling out of date milk I think people will stop buying from there, I know I would. Okay, the government allows it, I don’t think many if any supermarkets are actually going to use the facility though.

    • the extended expiry date will be set by the milk industry, not by the supermarkets. While now a days it’s up to 5 days (ie. 17/10/12) it will be written (22/10/12). Tricky if the consumer is not aware of the game. And believe me , if this gets legal by the government, no milk company will NOT do this. YOu will have a whole country not buying milk.