“Best” Make Some Changes

The NRDC and Harvard Law School released an excellent, in-depth report on date labels today. The Dating Game is required reading for anyone trying to make sense of the expiration dates.

The report details the current situation with date labels, and it’s a grim one. There’s no consistency in terminology; instead it’s a jumble of “best by,” “best before,” “use by,” “use or freeze by” and “sell by.”

image courtesy of Jellyfish in Armour

Meanwhile, there’s a lack of federal oversight–the only product required by federal law to have a date label is infant formula. In that void, there’s no consistency between states on what is required to have a date label and whether food can be sold past its “expiration date.”

Best of all, it suggests a few well-needed changes. Essentially: make “sell-by” dates invisible to consumers (because they’re meant for storekeepers), create uniform, reliable terms and add more safe-handling instructions on packaging.

This report could really shake things up in the food industry and Washington. There’s already plenty of buzz, from The Washington Post to Politico. Hopefully, that continues. Because, as is, far too much perfectly good food is wasted due to a generic date stamped on a package.

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