“Best by,” “sell by,” “use by,” and “best before” are all meant to indicate the degree of freshness of food, but can be a bit confusing for consumers. The food industry is looking to reduce confusion by simplifying the expiration labeling system, which will in turn save both food and money.
Trade groups in the food industry aim to reduce all expiration labels to only two: “use by” and “best if used by,” CBS reported.
According to the Food Marketing Institute and the Grocery Manufacturers Association, consumers see more than 10 different date labels on packaging. With combined efforts with retailers, the organization will use “best if used by” for quality and “use by” for products that are perishable and might cause a food safety concern over time.
“We have strong support throughout the industry for this streamlined initiative,” Meghan Stasz, senior director of sustainability at the Grocery Manufacturers Association, told CBS. “It’s an example of the food industry really stepping up and stepping forward to address a consumer challenge.”
These new label guidelines are voluntary, but global retailer Walmart has already shown interest in adopting what could be the new industry standard.