The Food Marketing Institute and the Grocery Manufacturers Association launched an industry-wide effort to reduce consumer confusion about product date labels and to reduce waste. The voluntary initiative streamlines myriad date labels on consumer products packaging down to two phrases: “BEST IF USED by” to describe product quality and “USE By” to indicate a food safety concern. Retailers and manufacturers are encouraged to immediately start phasing in the wording to achieve widespread adoption by the summer of 2018.

Thr groups claim there are currently more than 10 different date labels, including “Sell By,” “Use By,” “Expires On,” “Best Before,” “Better if Used By,” or “Best By,” which can result in confused consumers discarding a safe or usable product after the date on the package. According to the organizations, industry adoption of this new voluntary standard is expected to occur over time, so companies will have flexibility to make the changes in a way that ensures consistency across their product categories. 

Related: Court Upholds NYC Salt Warning Label; New Labels Will Spotlight Added Sweeteners.