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Update to Labels May Curb Food Waste

Americans waste about 8 million pounds of food each year. What if we could easily reduce that—and put nearly $30 million back into people's pockets? Ditching expiration‐date labels on foods offers a promising start.

Millions of Americans throw away perfectly healthy and safe food because they confuse "use by," "sell by" and "best before" dates on products. Most foods are safe to eat well beyond these dates, which manufacturers use to tell us when products will taste the freshest.

There is nothing compelling companies
to label most foods (though some states require labels on milk and meat). The Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Food Marketing Institute, two influential food industry groups, are asking manufacturers to use only two labels: a "best if used by" date, to indicate when food will taste the freshest; and a "use by" date for the few foods (such as sushi or some meats) that become less safe after a certain date. The changes are expected to be widely in effect by mid‐2018.


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