Deciphering the expiration dates on food products can be one of the most difficult things to do in the kitchen. You've most likely found yourself staring at a bag of lettuce trying to do the math between the "sell by" date and today's date or pondering the difference between "best before" and "use by." Thankfully, 50 of the world's biggest food and retail companies agree that these labels are confusing, and they're making steps toward a change. Insider reports that food retailers on the Consumer Goods Forum Board voted unanimously to change their expiration labels to read "use by" by 2020.
Brands like Campbell, Walmart, Kellogg, and Nestlé voted for the change on September 20 after determining that confusing labels were contributing to food waste around the world. It's estimated that 40% of food bought in the U.S. is thrown out, and misleading labels are a contributing factor. That's only part of the 1.3 billion tons of food in the world that gets lost or wasted each year, but the goal of the standardization is to cut this number down.
This change also might save you some money. The Consumer Goods Forum indicates that the average American family tosses out $1500 worth of groceries annually. With clearer expiration date labels on the food products you buy, you'll be able to waste less and save more. It's a simple change that could have a big impact, but you'll still have to wait until 2020 for the changes to be fully implemented.
"Standardizing food date labels is a simple and effective way to reduce the amount of edible food thrown out by households, saving them money and reducing their environmental footprint," explains the Consumer Goods Forum.