FDA Recommends Standardized Use of “Best If Used By”
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has sent a letter to food and beverage manufacturers recommending that they primarily use “Best If Used By” on their packages to help consumers who may be confused by the use of the phrase “Sell By.” The letter explains that the Grocery Manufacturers Association and Food Marketing Institute have recommended that food manufacturers use the distinguishing phrases “Best If Used By”—for foods that may decline in quality after a specific date but remain safe to eat—and “Use By,” which should appear on the label of perishable foods that should be discarded after a specific date for safety reasons.
“As approximately 80% of the foods in the US are regulated by the FDA, we would like to inform our regulated food industries that FDA strongly supports industry’s voluntary industrywide efforts to use the ‘Best if Used By’ introductory phrase when choosing to include a quality-based date label to indicate when a product will be at its best flavor and quality,” the letter states. “While standardizing the use of date labels for quality reasons is encouraged as a best practice, we know that labeling is not enough. FDA supports ongoing consumer education efforts by industry, government, and non-government organizations to educate consumers on what quality-based date labels mean and how to use them to further reduce food waste in the home.”