To help cut down on confusion about food item labeling -- and waste -- some grocery manufacturers will soon do away with the myriad "sell-by" and "best-before" labels on packaging.
As Fortune reports, the Food Marketing Institute and the Grocery Manufacturers Association have partnered for a voluntary initiative encouraging grocery producers to do away with a many confusing labels that mark our food -- Sell By, Use By, Expires On, Best Before, Better If Use By and Best Buy, for example -- in favor of two standardized tags: BEST If Used BY and USE By.
"BEST If Used By describes product quality, where the product may not taste or perform as expected but is safe to use or consume," GMA said in a statement.
"USE By applies to the few products that are highly perishable and/or have a food safety concern over time; these products should be consumed by the date listed on the package -- and disposed of after that date."
This standardization could cut out some of the confusion shoppers can face at the grocery store, and reduce food waste -- a staggering $165 billion annually, or about $2,200 per household.
Joe Colalillo, president of ShopRite of Hunterdon County, Inc. and chairman and CEO of Wakefern Food Corp, said:
"The customer comes first in our business, and this voluntary industry initiative provides shoppers with clear, easily understood date label information, so our customers can be confident in the product's quality and safety,"
"Food retailers and manufacturers are working towards the common goal of bringing consistency and greater clarity in product date label messaging. We want to ensure our customers have meaningful information that helps them make the best decisions for their families, both in the store when they shop and when they enjoy foods at home."
"Eliminating confusion for consumers by using common product date wording is a win-win because it means more products will be used instead of thrown away in error," said Jack Jeffers, Vice President of Quality at Dean Foods, which led GMA's work on this issue.
"It's much better that these products stay in the kitchen -- and out of landfills."
This decision makes sense - standing in the grocery store aisles trying to do mental math on a calendar isn't always easy, but this might help.