Sell-By Dates on Food Are About to Change in a Big Way

The Food Marketing Institute and the Grocery Manufacturers Association announced Wednesday that they’ve adopted standardized, voluntary regulations to clear up what product date labels mean.

sell by date label expiration

Sell by labels can be misleading and unclear to the majority of American consumers. But after 40 years of uncertainty, the grocery industry made a huge move Wednesday to clean up the mess.

The Food Marketing Institute and the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the two largest trade groups for the grocery industry, announced that they’ve adopted standardized, voluntary regulations to clear up what product date labels mean. Where manufacturers now use any of 10 separate label phrases, ranging from “expires on” to “better if used by,” they’ll now be encouraged to use only two: “Use By” and “Best if Used By.”

Both the Department of Agriculture and a coalition of environmental groups have been urging the industry to clear this up for years. In addition to costing average Americans, in the form of prematurely tossed groceries, the waste represents a significant use of landfill space and source of greenhouse gas emissions.

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