This week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) issued new information on food product labeling. This includes new guidance that encourages food manufacturers and retailers to apply “Best if Used By” date labels to food products. The agency hopes this will help to curb unnecessary food waste.

“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,” says Al Almanza, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety. “This new guidance can help consumers save money and curb the amount of wholesome food going in the trash.”

With the exception of baby formula, product dating is not a federal requirement. On other food products, the use of various phrases such as “Use-by” and “Sell-by” quality dates are optional for food manufacturers to include. These phrases are confusing for consumers who mistake them as expiration dates, thus throwing away food that is not yet past its prime. FSIS is changing its guidance to recommend the use of “Best if Used By” because research shows that this phrase is easily understood by consumers as an indicator of quality, rather than safety.

Comments on this revised guidance may be submitted through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at or by mail to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, FSIS, Docket Clerk, Patriots Plaza III, 355 E St. S.W., 8-163A, Mailstop 3782, Washington, DC 20250-3700. All comments submitted must include docket number FSIS-2016-0044. FSIS will accept comments for 60 days.

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