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Food Manufacturers Simplify Safety And Quality Labels On Grocery Items

February 16, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
The two largest trade groups for America’s grocery industry say they have adopted standardized, simplified, voluntary regulations to make product date labels clearer to the average consumer. The situation contributes to food waste because as many as 91 percent of consumers interpret a "use by" label (or no label at all) as a food safety warning and discard perfectly safe foods. Food manufacturers now use 10 different label phrases: for example, "expires on" and "better if used by." These would be replaced by just two: "use by" and "best if used by." “Use by” indicates when perishable foods are no longer safe to eat. "Best if used by" is a subjective guess regarding the date of optimum food quality: the point of peak flavor according to the manufacturer. Changes won’t be effective until July 2018. [ Image credit: © General Mills ]
Caitlin Dewey, "You’re About to See a Big Change to the Sell-By Dates on Food", The Washington Post, February 16, 2017, © The Washington Post
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