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Food Waste Increased by “Sell By” Dates


Dec 30, 2016


The is a growing realization that post-harvest waste in the U.S. is a significant problem.  It is calculated that the cost of disposing of date-expired food amounts to almost $2,000 per average household.

The USDA will issue new guidance relating to “sell by” and “best if used by” dates on labels.


The USDA Deputy Undersecretary for Food Safety, Al Almanza, noted “in an effort to reduce food loss and waste these changes will give consumers clear and consistent information when it comes to date labeling on the food they buy.  This new guidance can help consumers save money and curb the amount of wholesome food going into trash.”

The Food Safety and Inspection Service will recommend “Best if Used By” to differentiate a specific label date from the concept of wholesomeness.

It is noted that various state regulations specify a “sell by” date imprinted on egg packs.  This requirement is now superfluous given the universal application of refrigeration from pack to point-of-sale together with more rapid delivery and rotation of stock.  Eliminating Salmonella Enteritidis from commercial flocks has reduced the risk to consumers to negligible levels. It is questioned whether shorter pre-sale allowances imposed by some states are in fact intended to enhance food safety or whether the objective is to discriminate against eggs transported into the states concerned.