Clearing Up Confusion Regarding Sell By Labels In Groceries

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Clearing Up Confusion Regarding Sell By Labels In Groceries

Clearing Up Confusion Regarding Sell By Labels In Groceries

For decades, American consumers have been confused about what those sell by labels on most foods found in grocery stores really mean.  Now, the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Food Marketing Institute have announced that manufacturers will be encouraged to use only two product date labels, rather than the 10 they've been using for as long as many of us can remember.  

 
In an effort to clear up what these labels really mean, these two largest grocery industry trade groups have adopted standardized, voluntary regulations and will recommend manufacturers use either "Best if Used By" and "Use By" labels on their products.  According to news reports, the "Best if Used By" label is a quality descriptor, which means the flavor and quality of the food will be at its peak if used by this date.  The "Use By" label will indicate that if a perishable food item is not used by that date, it is no longer good.  Sounds simple.
 
When will the labeling changes take place?  It's hard to put a specific date on things, however the Grocery Manufacturers Association and Food Marketing Institute are pressing retailers and producers to make the changes now, and because they're voluntary standards, not every company is likely to adopt them.  The trade groups have set the date of July 2018 for companies to adhere to the new labels.
 
Walmart, the biggest seller of groceries in America, has already shown enthusiasm about changes to sell by dates.  News reports also say that while the interest in a federal standard for label dates has been growing, these voluntary standards may preempt or influence pending federal regulation.  
 
The confusion over food labels such as "best before," "sell by," "best if used by" and other wording has led to a huge waste of food in the U.S.  Perhaps by implementing these date labeling changes, not only will less food go to waste but consumers will finally understand what those labels really mean.
 
At Markem-Imaje we provide exceptional coding and marking solutions for the food and beverage industries, so those "use by" and "best if used by" dates will be clear, concise, and easy for consumers to read.  Count on Markem-Imaje for all of your industrial printing equipment needs.

January 10, 2014
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