USDA: 'Best if used by' makes more sense to consumers than 'sell by' and 'use by'

By Elaine Watson contact

- Last updated on GMT

USDA issues new guidance on date coding

Related tags: Under secretary of agriculture for food safety, Food safety

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has issued new guidance advising meat, poultry, and egg suppliers to replace separate ‘sell by’ and ‘use by’ date codes on product labels with a catch-all ‘Best if Used By’ date instead.

This new guidance can help consumers save money and curb the amount of wholesome food going in the trash​,” said Al Almanza, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety.

Product dating is not required under federal regulations except for infant formula, and the lack of a uniform approach has “caused consumer confusion and led to the disposal of food that is otherwise wholesome and safe,​” claims FSIS.

“FSIS is changing its guidance to recommend the use of ‘Best if Used By’ because research shows that this phrase is easily understood by consumers as an indicator of quality, rather than safety.”

Comments on the revised guidance may be submitted HERE​ ​(docket number FSIS-2016-0044) for 60 days.

Read more HERE​.

'Best if Used By/Before​' indicates when a product will be of best flavor or quality. It is not a safety date.

'Sell-By'​ tells the store how long to display the product for sale for inventory management. It is not a safety date.

'Use-By'​  is the last date recommended for the use of the product while at peak quality. It is not a safety date.

Source: USDA

Related topics: Regulation

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