Food Manufacturers Looking To Standardize Expiration Labels

CHICAGO (CBS) – Ever toss out food you thought was probably okay, but you just did not want to take a chance?

“Sell By” and “Best If Used By” dates can be confusing. CBS 2’s Roseanne Tellez has more on a new effort to help consumers sort it out and save money.

Food Labels at the grocery store sometimes raise more questions than they answer. It says, “Sell By”, but when do you have to eat it by? And if it’s after the “Best By” date, do you throw it out?

“We waste about 40 percent of the food we produce,” said Emily Broad, Harvard Law School, Food Law and Policy Clinic. “The single most cost effective solution is standardizing and clarifying labels.”

Statistics show millions of Americans are throwing out good food because of the date on the package.

“Sometimes I think it’s slightly confusing, because it’s “sell by,” but you don’t know what it’s “used by,”” said shopper, Lisa Herrmann. “You know, like I would like if they would stick to one thing on every product that would be way easier.”

Instead, there are 10 different date labels. Now, there is an effort by the Food Marketing Institute and the Grocery Manufacturer’s Association to adopt an industry standard.

“Best If Used By” for quality and “Use By” for products that are highly perishable or have a food safety concern over time.

“We have strong support throughout the industry for this streamlined initiative,” said Meghan Stasz, Grocery Manufacturers Association.

The guidelines are voluntary, but giant retailer, Walmart said they would “simplify consumers’ lives” and “reduce food waste”.

This initiative expects to save shoppers a lot of money when they stop throwing out food that is still good to eat. The trade groups said to look for those new labels by next summer.

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