In an effort to reduce consumer confusion on product date labels, the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) have joined together toadopt two standard phrases: “Best If Used By” and “Use By.”

“Our product code dating initiative is the latest example of how retailers and manufacturers are stepping up to help consumers and to reduce food waste,” said Pamela G. Bailey, GMA president and CEO.

“Best If Used By” would indicate the quality of the product, “where the product may not taste or perform as expected, but is safe to use or consume,” while “USE By” would apply to products that are highly perishable and/or have a food safety concern over time and should be consumed by the date listed on the package then disposed of after that date.

Currently, there are more than 10 different date labels for packages, which include Best Before, Best By, Better if Used By, Expires on, Sell By and even Use By.

While the guidelines are completely voluntary, FMI and GMA are hoping retailers and manufacturers will be encouraged to immediately adopt the new phrases by the summer of 2018.

“The shopper remains the most critical audience in our industry, and as the associations representing major food brands and retailers, we want to encourage a consistent vocabulary so that our customers clearly understand they are purchasing products that are of the highest quality and safety possible,” said Leslie G. Sarasin, FMI president and CEO. “While we all need nourishment, both retailers and manufacturers also want consumers to have the best experience possible in their stores and [while] consuming their products.”

Posted on WholeFoods Magazine Online, 2/17/17