Ever wondered where the milk in your fridge was bottled?

When getting the milk out of the fridge have you ever wondered where it was processed and bottled?

It is possible to check as every bottle has a code printed on the label telling you the factory that produced it. For small dairies this will take the form of an an oval symbol with “UK xxxx EC” inside. The “xxxx” is the unique code issued to that individual site. Larger dairies tend to print the “xxxx” on the front of the label by the best before date.

So how do you decode the factory code?

There is a list of approved milk processors which can be downloaded from this link, it comes as a xls spreadsheet. that

Here in the south west of England a good proportion of the milk on supermarket shelves has the code SG 005, as seen on the Co-op milk bottle labels in the picture.

SG 005 means they came out of the large Müller Wiseman Dairy (formally Robert Wiseman) just off the M5 at North Petherton, near Bridgwater.

The organic milk I looked at came from either SG 005 or SS 210. The SS of SS 210 shows they come under South Somerset District Council’s approval regime. SS 210 is Yeo Valley at Coombe Farm, Crewkerne. In the Waitrose branch I looked in they had three brands of organic milk, Waitrose, Yeo Valley and Duchy Originals milk, all marked SS210.

Sticking with Waitrose their own brand non organic milk was labelled GS 003 which shows it was processed and bottled by Muller Wiseman at the ex Dairy Crest factory at Stonehouse in Gloucestershire. Muller Wiseman bought all the milk bottling plants owned by Dairy Crest when the latter decided to concentrate on cheese making. Frijji milkshakes are also marked GS003 and so are produced at Stonehouse.

Sainsbury’s in Chard had pint bottles of semi skimmed milk with two different best before dates, each of which had different makers codes. Some were from Wiseman at North Petherton, the others from a Dairy Crest dairy in North London.

The milk in small community and corner shops seems to come from all over. I even saw some pint cartons of Wiseman milk on sale in Somerset that had been packaged in Scotland!

Muller Wiseman milk bottle label. The PR014 code shows it was bottled at Droitwich.
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