Change coming for food label expiration to prevent food waste

Posted at 9:01 AM, Apr 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-05 10:01:57-04

According to the Save the Food campaign, we waste about 40 percent of our food.

For example, people throw out canned goods past its expiration date. In reality, labels like the “Use by” and “Best by” dates are simply suggestions for freshness.

Jessica Bjorgaard from Price Chopper says, “It really goes back to when consumers were starting to get concerned with freshness and quality. The manufacturers and food companies saw that and wanted to offer to consumers and say, ‘Ok, it's going to be the best taste by this (date), so it really started with the consumers.’"

While the language of food labels can get confusing, we could soon see major changes to streamline food expiration labels.

Two big food industry groups want to narrow it down to two simple phrases - "Best if used by" for packaged goods like chips and cookies and "Use by" for more perishable food like meat and cheese. H

aving only a couple of standard labels should make navigating your kitchen simpler. Industry experts say a voluntary rollout will hopefully be seen by summer of 2018.  

The “Sell by” date is a phrase from the manufacturer to the grocer suggesting when to take an item off the shelf. Some grocery stores, like Price Chopper, try to take dairy, produce and meat off the shelf even before the “Sell by” date. 

“Best by” labels are intended for the consumer to be used as a guideline for quality of taste. Bjorgaard says, “With canned goods specifically, you're going to have the best taste before the date, but that absolutely does not mean you're going to get sick if you eat it after that month and year that's on there."

Food items involving children, like infant formula, have stricter guidelines, so parents should abide by the actual expiration date.

The best guideline is to use common sense… and your senses. Look at the food and smell it.

“Milk usually lasts a few days after the sell-by date,” says Bjorgaard. Conversely, if perishable items like orange juice, produce and meat are outside of the refrigerator for a few hours or more (i.e. In the car or on the kitchen counter), consumers risk shortening that food’s shelf life.

On a store by store basis, some Price Chopper locations also try to discount foods close to their expiration date.

Another way they keep food away from the dumpster is, whenever possible, work to donate to local food agencies.






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