The FDA Wants to Clear the Confusion Surrounding Food Expiration Dates

On Thursday, May 23, 2019, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued guidance urging the food industry to streamline food labels into one standard one. Specifically, they pushed for the industry to abandon confusing expiration dates and adopt a standardized “best if used by” label.

Why is the FDA getting involved?

The FDA estimates that households waste 20%—or $161 billion—of food products each year due to confusion over various expiration labels. Many consumers are understandably confused by the differing labels used on perishable products, including “sell by,” “use by,” and “best if used by.” The FDA suggests that these labels lead consumers to believe that their food is expired, even when that might not be the case.

To change this, the FDA is promoting the sole usage of the “best if used by” label on food products. This label means that the products will be the highest quality until a certain date. The “best if used by” date shows consumers that the products are still safe by the date indicated, but doesn’t lead them to think they have to immediately toss the milk or eggs in the trash after the date.

What’s next?

With the exception of infant formula, which is subject to different expiration date regulations, the FDA is working with food manufacturers to have them adopt the expiration label initiative. While the label change is voluntary, many manufacturers have already begun making the switch. Consumers should check

their food perishables for color or texture changes, or odor, to evaluate if their food is safe to eat after the “best if used by” date.

The FDA Wants to Clear the Confusion Surrounding Food Expiration Dates by
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