The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FDIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture has updated its guidance on how food manufacturers and retailers should apply dating information to their products.
Dating of food products is not currently required under federal regulations in the U.S., except for infant formulas. However, food producers often voluntarily include on their packaging specific phrases to provide consumers with an indication of a product’s freshness or quality. According to the FDIS, some commonly used phrases such as "sell-by" or "use-by" actually contribute to confusion among consumers and result in the premature disposal of otherwise edible food.
The revised FDIS guidance encourages food producers to use the term "Best if Used By" for date labelling purposes, since its research indicates that consumers understand the phrases as an indicator of quality rather than of safety. As a result, consumers will be less likely to dispose of food products that are still safe to eat.
More information on the USDA revised guidance on date labelling is available here.