Sell-by dates are expiring. - Grist


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Spoiler Alert

Sell-by dates are expiring.

You know sell-by dates. They’re those little tags stuck to your pre-made sandwich at the deli, or printed on the milk carton at the grocery store. Now two of the most influential food-industry players — The Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Food Marketing Institute — want to get rid of them, according to Dan Charles at NPR.

Why? Because they cause food waste. They provide information that’s useful to sellers but misleading to buyers. People confuse it for the eat-by date and wind up trashing perfectly good, edible food.

Environmental groups have been pushing companies to get rid of sell-by dates for a long time. The USDA has recommended that companies just start using the words “Best if used by.”

That would be a big improvement. But it’s not an exact science. You should know that most food is fine past its use-by date, but food can always spoil before that date. So read the label, but also use your nose and brain.