'Best If Used By' labels will reduce food waste, USDA says

Consumers likely to find inconsistent labels confusing, says agency

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says food sellers who use product dating labels should switch to the phrase "Best If Used By'' to help reduce confusion and food waste.

The agency says consumers are less likely to find such labels confusing than other widely used ones such as "Sell By'' and "Use By.''

Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine agrees that inconsistent labels cause confusion resulting in unnecessary food waste. She says the USDA's recommendation is encouraging, and the next step is to formalize date labeling with legalization.

Food product dating isn't required by federal regulations except for infant formula.

Pingree introduced the Food Date Labeling Act this year. The proposal would establish a uniform national system for date labeling and educate consumers about the meaning of labels.

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