Trade Groups Push To “Expire” Confusing Food Date Labels

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NEW YORK (CBS NEWS) – There could soon be something new to check out at your grocery store.

The food industry is working to simplify labels on perishable food. Date stamps like “best by,” “sell by,” “use by” and “best before” can be confusing for shoppers.

Those multiple notifications could soon be reaching their expiration date. The trade groups are moving to reduce those “expiration” labels to just two: “use by” and “best if used by.” They say it’ll not only reduce consumer confusion, but also keep people from wasting perfectly good food, reports CBS news correspondent Jamie Yuccas.

Every grocery shopper wants to buy the freshest food that will stay fresh the longest after you bring it home. But if your food reaches the “sell by” date, does that mean you have to throw it away? And if you’re past the “best by” date, does that mean it’s no longer edible?

“Sometimes I think it’s slightly confusing. Because you know, it’s ‘sell by’ but you don’t know what is ‘use by.’ You know, like, I would like if they would stick to one thing on every product. That would be way easier,” said Lisa Hermann, a shopper.

Two of the nation’s largest grocery store trade groups agree. According to the Food Marketing Institute and the Grocery Manufacturers Association, consumers are confronted with more than 10 different date labels on packages. They’ve announced a joint effort with retailers to adopt a new industry standard of just two labels:  “best if used by” for quality and “use by” for products that are highly perishable, or have a food safety concern over time.

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