The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) are leading a new initiative to streamline the date labeling on food products, according to a press release.

The initiative aims to reduce customer confusion about when foods expire and, by extension, cut food waste. The release notes that there “currently, more than 10 different date labels on packages,” including Sell By, Use By, Best Before, and so on.

The new guidelines consolidate all of these labels into two:

  • BEST If Used By to describe product quality – meaning that the product may taste different, but it’s still safe, and
  • USE By to describe food safety – meaning that if the product isn’t consumed by the specified date, it should be thrown away.

The organizations encourage manufacturers and retailers to start using the new phrasing immediately, “with widespread adoption urged by the summer of 2018.”

This announcement follows USDA guidance issued last December encouraging food companies to start using “Best If Used By” because this phrase is easily understood by consumers.


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