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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

What ‘Sell By’ and ‘Use By’ Dates on Food Really Mean

Are you one of the millions of Americans tossing hundreds of dollars in the trash each year?

Probably so if you don’t understand those “sell by,” “use by” and “best before” labels stamped on groceries you buy.

A report by the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic and the Natural Resources Defense Council found that the vast majority of Americans misinterpret food labels and throw out perfectly good food.

By understanding some simple terms, you can keep that money in your pocket, rather than toss it in the trash can.
‘Sell by’ date

If you throw out food based on the “sell by” date, you are not alone. The study found that more than 90 percent of consumers make that mistake. Yet keeping food past that date does not mean it’s unsafe.

In reality, the “sell by” date is used by manufacturers to let grocery stores know they should not sell food past that date simply to ensure it still has some shelf life remaining after a consumer purchases it, according to the report.

‘Best before’ date and ‘use by’ date

“Best before” and “use by” dates don’t mean you should toss that food away. Those labels typically indicate the manufacturer’s estimate of when the food will be past its peak for quality. But that doesn’t mean the food is unsafe, the report says.

There is no standard that establishes those dates. Laws vary by state, and manufacturers have their own rules for setting dates. Neither the U.S. Food and Drug Administration nor the U.S. Department of Agriculture has stepped in to address the confusion.



Anonymous said...

two words... smell it

Anonymous said...

If it smells bad it is bad unless it is supposed to smell bad but it can be bad and not smell bad.

Anonymous said...

If in doubt throw it out is the safest way to go.

Anonymous said...

as far a canned good go; we never tossed a canned good unless the can swelled (usually on top). we still keep canned good past the date and then just smell the food. we have never gotten sick from using past the date on the can.

Anonymous said...

oh heaven forbid it is in a school.....

Anonymous said...

Within 2-3 years you're probably GTG!