ReFED's Date Labeling Working Group developed a tool to promote the accelerated adoption of the Grocery Manufacturers Association and Food Marketing Institute's voluntary date labeling standards by helping manufacturers determine which label to use for different products. We created a draft of this tool in consultation with over 40 food safety experts and are seeking input from additional stakeholders to refine the tool before its formal release.
If you have expertise in food date labeling, quality assurance, or food safety, we welcome your review of the tool - please send feedback by August 31, 2017.
Please download the Date Labeling Standardization Tool, Guidelines, and feedback questionnaire below. Please send the completed questionnaire to Eva Goulbourne, Director of Business & Multistakeholder Programs at [email protected] or take the questionnaire online.
Thank you in advance for your interest in this initiative and for your time and thoughtful commentary.
Standardizing food label dates, including eliminating visible “sell by” dates, to reduce consumer confusion
Current date labeling practices on food packaging cause confusion with “sell-by,” “best-by,” “use-by,” and “best before” dates, leading up to 90% of Americans to occasionally throw out still-fresh food. Confusion over the meaning of date labels is estimated to account for 20% of consumer waste of safe, edible food. This equates to approximately $29 billion of wasted consumer spending each year — 5% to 10% of this is expected to be impacted by standardized date labels.
The Food Recovery Act, currently proposed and pending (as of February 2016) by Rep. Chellie Pingree, recommends standardizing labels with the phrase “Best if Used By,” followed by “Manufacturer’s Suggestion Only” and a standard “Expires On” date required for the small number of items determined by the FDA to have food safety risks.
Some manufacturers have experimented with adding “freeze by” language onto packaging to encourage customers to take active steps to preserve food in the freezer instead of throwing it in the trash.
Conducting large-scale advocacy campaigns to raise awareness and educate consumers about ways to save money and prevent wasted food.
Accepting and integrating the sale of off-grade produce (short shelf life, different size/shape/color), also known as "imperfect produce", into food business menu planning and product lines
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