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What is meaning of food product dating?


Stop Wasting Your Food!

Have you been throwing away food because of date labels like "best-before" or "expiration" dates? It's really heartbreaking to waste not just food, but also money. Let me help you save your food, money, and our planet by understanding these labels better.

Understanding Date Labels to Prevent Food Waste

Best by date: This date indicates the period when the product will have its best flavor or quality, like when chips are crispiest. It is not about food safety, but taste. Your food is still edible after this date.

Sell by date: This date helps sellers know when to remove items from the shelves. It ensures you receive the food at its optimal quality, which is still edible after this date.

Use by date: This is the last day the producer guarantees the best quality of the food. It is not a safety date, except for infant formula.

Freeze by date: This indicates when a product should be frozen to maintain peak quality. It is not a purchase or safety date.

These dates are about food quality, not safety. Depending on the items, you can consume them for about four days to a month after these dates.

Spoiled food will usually look different in texture and color, smell unpleasant, and taste bad before it becomes unsafe to eat (source: Consumer Reports for the Washington Post).

The World Still Does Not Understand Date Labels

Most people still do not understand these dates, leading to unnecessary food waste. Wasting food not only harms the environment but also incurs significant costs.

In the U.S., 1 in 8 Americans experience food insecurity while $200 billion is spent on food that will never be eaten. About 40% of food produced, processed, and transported in the U.S. is wasted, ending up in landfills and draining our natural resources and wallets.

Korea faces similar issues, with each person wasting an average of 290 pounds of food annually. Overproduction and overconsumption lead to massive resource waste.

Consumers often throw away perfectly edible food by misunderstanding date marks like expiration and best-before dates. Snacks, frozen items, condiments, and grains can be safely consumed much longer if properly stored, even after the expiration date. These dates are generally not regulated by the government but are often set arbitrarily by the manufacturer.

Studies show that 10% of Europe's 88 million tons of annual food waste is due to misunderstanding date labels.

What Should We Do Now?

Don’t throw away your food past the date. If handled properly, food is still safe and wholesome even after the date passes. Spoiled food will develop an off odor, flavor, or texture due to naturally occurring spoilage bacteria. If food has developed such spoilage, it should not be eaten.

Consider buying products close to their expiration date. If you plan to consume it right away, buy products close to their expiration date. Clearance shelves often have items nearing their expiration date at a discount. Understanding these dates can save you money and reduce waste.

Reducing Food Waste: A Step Towards Saving Money and the Planet

Reducing food waste is an easy way to save money and live more sustainably. By understanding and properly handling food date labels, you can help protect your wallet and the environment.