Expiration Dates

Many food products sold in the United States have an expiration date printed on their packaging with the words “sell by,” “use by,” or “best before.” Because of inconsistencies in this labeling due to a lack of regulation, and an absence of consumer education about these labels, many consumers assume that they refer to the food’s safety and therefore throw the food away before it has actually spoiled. In reality, these labels refer to the food’s quality, not the food’s safety, and they exist for two reasons: to alert grocery stores when to rotate products and to inform consumers when the product is at its freshest state. This misinterpretation contributes to 160 billion pounds of food waste in the United States, around 40% of the ...

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