Wednesday, 3 December 2008

The milk is talking to me

Sainsbury's supermarket, in a moment of madness, has introduced what I can only call semi-demi skimmed milk (musical reference). It comes between skimmed and semi-skimmed, for reasons I really can't imagine.

But the interesting thing is the signal it gives off. Semi-demi skimmed milk has an orange top. At first sight this is highly logical as it fits between red topped and green topped milk - just like traffic lights. Except in every other colour coding of this sort, green means better for you and red means worse for you. But with milk, the colours are:
  • Red - best
  • Orange - not quite as good
  • Green - okayish
  • Blue - watch out arteries
It's a nightmare. And, of course, while it would be logical to reassign these as green, blue, orange and red respectively, they presumably never can, because the buyers are already used to them.



  1. Oh. Up here in Finland, red means full fat and evil, blue is semi-skimmed and light blue means white water (without the canoes).

    Where's EU standardization when you need it?

  2. ...and here in Sweden, red means full fat, tasty and delicious, green is semi-skimmed, blue is skimmed and completely tasteless, and yellow is what was left over when they had churned the butter. But. This only goes for the middle 1/3 of Sweden - it's not even standardized on a country-wide basis. Then again, having lived in Holland, Ireland and the UK, I've learned to actually look at the packages to see what I'm buying :)

  3. At least the Scandanavians at least can get full fat labelled with the evil red sign, even if they can't agree on what to do with blue.

  4. Funny post! I remember when they introduced milk "fat levels" in the UK on a large scale, when different supermarkets used different colour codes. If you were in Sainsbury's it was one way, in Tesco's another - most confusing. At least now they are all the same (ish - at least the two I use most often and the local garage/corner shop for emergencies) in the UK. Milk elsewhere is often very different, eg in the USA it does not taste like anything I have experienced at home. It also seems to be, and stay, unnaturally white for a very long time.

  5. PS interesting Google ads in the comment window for this post, Brian, eg:

    Milk - Free Delivery
    Milk Straight To Your Door. Other Products Available. Free Delivery

    LACTAID® Official Site
    Enjoy Dairy Again With Convenient, LACTAID® Fast Act Supplements

  6. Maxine - I can only think, from your comment, that milk in the US must be made from Twinkies.

    Somehow the mail order milk in the ad reminds me of mail order petrol - see

  7. Also I've never understood why those gastronomic experts the French don't understand fresh milk. Go in any French supermarket and 99% of the milk is long life, then there are six scruffy bottles of milk with ice crystals in them. As our colonial cousins say, go figure.