Americans have struggled with the many food labels and their meanings for many years. Sell for, best and best if used by – what are the differences?
Now the Food and Drug Administration will make it a little easier. In a new guide issued on Thursday, it encouraged the industry to streamline food labels to a standard one: Best if used by.
The confusion over the various labels helps the Americans throw out $ 161 billion worth of food each year, the FDA says. There are about 20% of consumer food waste in the home.
"It is not surprising when you look at the different terms used with date labels, such as use before, sell within, expire on, and many more," said a statement
A "best of used" label on packed food will help if the date is only related to optimum quality – not safety.
"Studies have shown that this best communicator to consumers that these products should not be discarded after the date if properly stored," says the FDA.
It said it hopes that over time, the number of different date labels will be reduced as the industry adopts the "best if used by" mark.
Why Companies Use Date Labels
Manufacturers use date labels at their discretion for various reasons.
"The most common one is to inform consumers and retailers of the date up to which they can expect food to retain the desired quality and taste. The main exception to this general rule is for infant formulas. These products are required to have a" Use of " date, up to which the manufacturer has confirmed that the product contains no less than a minimum amount for each nutrient identified on the product's label and that the product will be of acceptable quality, "the FDA says.
Although "best if used by" labels relate to the quality of the product, predicting when the food is not good enough to eat is not an exact science.
Consumers should routinely examine food in their kitchen cabinets or pantry that is past their "best if used by" date to determine if it's good enough to use. If the products have changed color, consistency or texture, consumers should avoid eating them, FDA says.