U.S. food groups changing ‘best by’ labels to clear up confusion

Two U.S. trade associations announced this week they will change the way freshness dates are labeled on food in an effort to clear up confusion that they say often leads to unnecessary food waste. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI

Feb. 16 (UPI) — The U.S. food industry is planning to change the way freshness date labels are stamped onto packaging in an effort to clear up confusion.

The Food Marketing Institute and the Grocery Manufacturers Association announced Wednesday it will do away with several different types of stamps in favor of just two easy-to-understand variations.

“Currently, more than 10 different date labels on packages — such as Sell By, Use By, Expires On, Best Before, Better if Used By or Best By — can result in confused consumers discarding a safe or usable product after the date on the package,” the GMA said in a statement.

Going forward, the industry will use two labels — “BEST If Used By” and “USE By”.

“‘BEST If Used By’ describes product quality, where the product may not taste or perform as expected but is safe to use or consume. ‘USE By’ applies to the few products that are highly perishable and/or have a food safety concern over time,” the statement noted.

“We want to encourage a consistent vocabulary so that our customers clearly understand they are purchasing products that are of the highest quality and safety possible,” FMI President Leslie G. Sarasin said.

In 2011, the groups created the Food Waste Reduction Alliance to help companies find ways to cut down food waste.

The trade associations said they hope the change will be fully implemented by the summer of 2018.


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