USDA Wants "Best if Used by" Date Label
December 16, 2016

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service this week issued updated information on food product labeling, including new guidance aimed at reducing food waste by encouraging food manufacturers and retailers that apply product dating to use a "Best if Used By" date label.

Except for infant formula, product dating is not required by federal regulations. Food manufacturers frequently use a variety of phrases, such as "Sell-by" and "Use-by" on product labels to describe quality dates on a voluntary basis. The use of different phrases to describe quality dates has caused consumer confusion and has led to the disposal of food that is otherwise wholesome and safe because it is past the date printed on the package.

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.