Friday, February 17, 2017

Voluntary industry guidelines set for product 'use by' labels

If you have a food product with a "sell by" date that already has passed, you'd better get rid of it, right? Not so fast.

"Sell by," "use by," "best if used by" and other phrases can mean different things. In an effort to improve the public's understanding, the Food Marketing Institute and the Grocery Manufacturers Association this week introduced standardized, voluntary regulations to clear up what product date labels mean. Within reason, products with an outdated "expiration" date often are safe to consume.

Manufacturers use as many as 10 different label phrases, ranging from "expires on" to "better if used by." They'll now be encouraged to use only two:

• "Use By" --  A safety designation indicating when perishable foods no longer are good.

•  "Best if Used By" -- A subjective guess of by when the manufacturer thinks the product should be consumed for peak flavor.
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