Have you ever thrown away food that looked perfectly fine, just because the package said it was expired? As it turns out, a lot of people get confused by date labels on food packaging — and a big reason why is because expiration dates are not uniformly regulated in the U.S. To combat that, legislators introduced the Food Date Labeling Act.
There are almost 50 different terms related to dates used on food labels across the U.S., as per the NRDC — and that understandably leads to a lot of confusion. What’s the difference of “best by” and “best used by”? What about “use by” versus “sell by”? And just how bad is it to eat unopened food after its expiration date? What about opened food? …yeah. There’s a lot of confusion there.
If the Food Date Labeling Act passes, manufacturers would have to streamline their language on date labels, and clarify that “sell by” dates are just suggestions. The bill also aims to launch a nationwide campaign to educate consumers on ways to reduce food waste, create better-composting infrastructure, and work with the USDA and the government on other food waste reduction initiatives.