Say Goodbye to Confusing Date Labels on Foods

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The grocery industry is working to streamline confusing expiration labels on food items, and that's good news for your wallet.

The expiration and “sell by” labels affixed to food can be confusing. As a result, a lot of perfectly good food ends up in the trash. But a new grocery initiative hopes to change that with revised date labels.

According to the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Food Marketing Institute — the two major trade groups for the grocery industry — the labeling initiative adopts the following two standard date labels for food:

  • BEST If Used By: This label “describes product quality, where the product may not taste or perform as expected but is safe to use or consume,” explains the GMA.
  • USE By: This “applies to the few products that are highly perishable and/or have a food safety concern over time; these products should be consumed by the date listed on the package – and disposed of after that date,” says the GMA.

The goal of the new standardized labels is to eliminate consumer confusion about expiration dates. There are currently more than 10 expiration labels used on food products, including “Best Before” and “Better If Used By.”

Research by the Natural Resources Defense Council reveals that a whopping 40 percent of the U.S. food supply ends up in the trash each year. That’s not only bad for the environment, but your wallet takes a hit, too.

It’s estimated that American families toss out up to $2,275 in perfectly good food each year because we aren’t sure if the food is still good or even safe to eat if it is past its expiration date.

The labeling change won’t happen overnight. The FMI and GMA are urging food companies to make the change quickly, but they have until July 2018 to comply, reports The Washington Post.

What do you think about the food labeling change? Sound off below or on Facebook.

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