New Changes to Sell-By Dates on Packaged Food

Mar, 06, 2017

By Fredrica Syren:

Some much needed changes are coming to packaged foods sold in grocery stores. Two major influential trade groups in the food industry, the Food Marketing Institute and the Grocery Manufacturers Association, are lobbying for changes to 10 different food labels that include “sell by” to “use by,” “expires on” and “best before. ” The hope is that food manufacturers will instead use adopted standardized, voluntary regulations — only two expiration date labels, “used by” and “best by.” This hopefully will clear up things for consumers and help them understand when exactly they need to throw away their food.

The new label “Best If Used By” date signals when the product might not taste as good but is still safe to eat or drink. The label “USE By” indicates by when you should consume the product or throw it away for health and safety reasons.

Current food labels have caused 40 years of confusion. They have caused consumers, thinking food is inedible, to prematurely toss lots of food, causing lots of food waste as a result. This food waste takes a significant amount of landfill space, and is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. As I said, so far the labels are just voluntary, not required by federal law, but trade groups and environmental advocacy groups are hoping food manufacturers will adopt the labels by 2018 to combat food waste.

Fredrika Syren

Fredrika Syren is an environmental activist and writer. In 2016, she founded the website Green-Mom.com where she shared her family’s journey of living zero waste. She lives in San Diego, California with her husband James and their children Bella, Noah, and Liam. Fredrika and her family were recently featured in the documentary Zero Time to Waste. Fredrika is also the author of Zero Waste for Families - A Practical Guidebook (which you can buy on this site)

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