We’ve talked before about food expiration dates, sell by dates, and other dates on your products. They don’t all mean the same thing, and in some cases, don’t mean much at all. And now, at least two organizations are hoping to help clarify the confusion.
The Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Food Marketing Institute are just a few of the names in line to help reduce food waste.
Because of the confusion will “sell by”, “best by”, and other expiration dates, very often completely safe food gets tossed from over concerned individuals.
In some cases, food may not taste as good, because it isn’t as fresh, but over all, food just doesn’t have a magic hard line when it “expires”.
Sell By Change
The two associations which include most food manufacturers and retailers as members are looking to abolish the current labeling system, including the labels “sell by” and “expires on”.
If their plan goes forward, they are suggesting just two labels on food products. One would be the “best if used by”date, which is already a common label. And the second one would be the “use by” date for products that are more likely to spoil as they age.
The move would definitely garner favor among environmental groups. Groups such as the Natural Resources Defense Council have been advocating for such a change for a while. They hope label changes would lead to a reduction in food waste.
The USDA has also shown support for a more simplified labeling system, asking for companies to just use one label, the “best if used by” label.
Currently, there is no federal law requiring or regulating expiration dates on foods. Some states do have requirements for certain types of foods, like dairy or meat products.
Food safety experts however, state that stale or spoiled foods aren’t generally particularly hazardous, even if they aren’t tasty. It doesn’t take an expiration date to tell you not to drink spoiled milk!
Until a change takes place, try to reduce waste by buying less, making sure food is stored at the proper temperatures, and checking before you automatically toss something just because of it’s date.