The FDA knows expiration dates are confusing, so they’re changing them

Popular Science | 5/24/2019 | Staff
moemajormoemajor (Posted by) Level 3
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You can get extraordinarily sick eating expired food, but more often than not we’re just throwing away perfectly good chow. All told, the FDA estimates we waste 133 billion pounds of it a year. It's true that a lot of food waste is out of consumers' hands—products can go bad en route to or inside of grocery stores, or fail to meet standards for sale—but home cooks are far from blameless. The FDA believes expiration dates may lead to most of this unnecessary trashing.

Right now, manufacturers use a variety of terms, most of which you’ve probably seen: “use before,” “sell by,” “expires on,” and others. You might have wondered how a food company knows when their product is going to go bad. Here, at last, is the answer: they don't. Not really. As the FDA notes, there’s no precise science behind creating a sell-by date. Manufacturers are estimating, and it’s not always clear whether they’re doing so based on safety concerns or just on quality. So, not only is phrasing inconsistent from product to product, but definitions aren't consistent from phrase to phrase. One company may put an “expires on” date on a can of soda that merely poses a higher risk of being flat by that time, while another might use the same wording on a piece of meat that is quite genuinely going to go rotten—but probably not until after that date, which is a cautious and conservative estimate. They're so ambiguous as to be pretty much useless, and consumers tend to err on the side of throwing things away.

FDA - Change - Everyone - Product - Date

So the FDA is proposing a change: everyone should switch to “best if used by.” Saying that a product should be sold by a certain date is ambiguous—does that mean it’s unsafe to eat after that point, or is...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Popular Science
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