The grocery industry announced a nationwide effort to clear up consumer confusion regarding date labels on food packaging as part of an overarching effort to combat food waste. The initiative will streamline the phrasing used on food date labels by replacing over ten existing forms with two standard phrases. Most products will bear a “BEST If Used By” label that connotes peak quality. Highly perishable foods and those that become less safe to eat over time will bear a “USE By” label.
The announcement follows extensive work by the House Agriculture Committee during the 114th Congress to explore the issue of food waste and potential solutions.
“Last Congress, the committee examined the issue of food waste through a full committee hearing, roundtable discussion, ‘food waste fair’, and extensive meetings with both consumer and industry stakeholders,” said Chairman Conaway. “Virtually every discussion included concerns regarding waste generated as a result of consumer confusion about the various date labels on foods and what they mean. I am pleased to see the grocery manufacturing and retail industries tackling this issue head on. Not every issue warrants a legislative fix, and I think this industry-led, voluntary approach to standardizing date labels is a prime example.”