The Food and Drug Administration announced on May 23 that it strongly supports the food industry’s efforts to standardize date labeling. Research has shown that "best if used by" – not, say not “best by” or “sell by” – helps shoppers better understand they don’t need to throw foods out after the printed date passes if they’re stored correctly.
In a press release, FDA said 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.
To help dispel this confusion, the FDA is supporting the food industry’s efforts to standardize the use of the term “Best if Used By” on its packaged-food labeling if the date is simply related to optimal quality — not safety. Studies have shown that this best conveys to consumers that these products do not have to be discarded after the date if they are stored properly. “We expect that over time, the number of various date labels will be reduced as industry aligns on this ‘Best if Used By’ terminology,” says Yiannas. “This change is already being adopted by many food producers.”
The FDA’s efforts are part of a White House initiative called Winning on Reducing Food Waste. And part of this collaboration between the FDA, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture involves educating consumers on ways to reduce food loss and waste, and how to do it safely without risking illness from consuming spoiled food.