Safe and Smart

Clarity for Expiration Dates on Food




SpeedKingz/Shutterstock.com

Many Americans have been confused by the “Sell By” labels on groceries for 40 years. Now, the Food Marketing Institute and the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the two largest industry trade groups, are adopting voluntary standardized regulations to clarify. Instead of using up to 10 different phrases to communicate safety, they have settled on just two: “Use By”, a safety designation to indicate when perishable foods are no longer good; and “Best if Used By”, an estimate of when the manufacturer thinks the product should be consumed for peak flavor.

Studies show that consumers generally believe the current labels all signal whether a product is safe to eat, and that it will still be okay well after its so-called expiration date. At the same time, prematurely tossed groceries dominate landfills and produce greenhouse gas emissions. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and a coalition of environmental groups have been urging the industry to clear this up. The change is scheduled to take hold in July 2018.


This article appears in the June 2017 issue of Natural Awakenings.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Content

Eat Right to Sleep Well

Rather than popping a pill, eating certain foods can kick-start hormones that help us get a long, deep night’s sleep.

We Need Clean Waters

Efforts are underway around the country to make polluted waterways clean again and to instill local appreciation for their many helpful roles.

Peter Gros on Preserving Wild Nature

The wildlife expert explains why we should appreciate wolves, snakes and bats and what he finds encouraging about an enlightened focus on wildlife protection.

Running with the Kids

Families with children as young as 5 easily bond when they mindfully run together at a fun pace.

Livable Communities We Love

Across the country, cities from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh to Portland are finding fresh new ways to create engaging street life for residents while eco-upgrading their green spaces, services and infrastructure.

Add your comment: