Confused by Date Labels on Packaged Foods?
Between the food industry and consumers, Americans are throwing out about a third of our food — about $161 billion worth each year.
Consumer uncertainty about the meaning of the dates that appear on the labels of packaged foods is believed to contribute to about 20 percent of food waste in the home. That’s not surprising when you consider the variety of terms used with date labels, such as “use before,” “sell by,” “expires on,” and many more.
Most Date Labels Are Not Based on Exact Science
Manufacturers generally apply date labels at their own discretion and for a variety of reasons. The most common is to inform consumers and retailers of the date up to which they can expect the food to retain its desired quality and flavor.
Date labels are generally not required on packaged foods. While manufacturers are prohibited from placing false or misleading information on a label, they are not required to obtain agency approval of the voluntary quality-based date labels they use or specify how they arrived at the date they’ve applied.
Waste Not: Advice on How to Reduce Food Waste
For more information, read the full article on the FDA website.