Consumer tip guide: That food date label might not mean what you think it means

If people better understood what the dating labels on food meant, would we still waste an estimated third of our food supply?

On Sept. 16, PIRG Education Fund released a tip guide to help Americans navigate the “Best By,” “Sell By” and “Use By” labels on their food. Some consumers believe that these labels are expiration dates and toss food once that date has passed. In reality, these labels have more to do with food quality than food safety. And because no federal standards exist for food dating, the dates are arbitrary anyway.

“Moving forward, Americans need to understand how to get the most out of what’s already in their homes and really know when their food is no longer safe to eat,” says Isabel Brown, Consumer Watchdog Associate with the U.S. PIRG Education Fund.

A new law in Pennsylvania seeks to combat food waste by allowing producers to put more accurate food labels on their products, setting a precedent other states should follow.

Read more.

Check out more tip guides and consumer resources.


Photo: One way consumers can be more informed, and Americans overall can waste less food: Clearing up those confusing dating labels on grocery products. Credit: Staff


Aaron Colonnese

Content Creator, Editorial & Creative Team, The Public Interest Network

Aaron writes and designs materials with the Creative Team for The Public Interest Network for U.S. PIRG. Aaron lives in Arlington, Massachusetts, and spends his spare time playing drums and going for long walks.

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