New Bill Would Standardize Expiration Dates

New bill could fix confusing supermarket sell-by labels

There are few things in a grocery store as befuddling as sell-by, best-by and use-by dates. In many cases, they leave shoppers and home cooks lost, not knowing when a pack of crackers simply will be stale or when a dairy product might be unsafe to eat.

Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Representative Chellie Pingree of Maine are proposing bills this week that would standardize product labeling, Consumerist reports, clearly informing people when something is best if used by (meaning it isn't stale) and expires on (meaning it is no longer safe to eat).

Up to this point, labeling has come from producers, often guided by state regulations that vary. Nearly half of U.S. states have a law that forbids the sale of goods after these dates. If these new national laws are passed, they would override state regulations.

The efforts are geared toward helping cut down on food waste. The average American wastes 20 pounds of food per month, and a study in 2014 found that 90 percent of Americans have thrown out food solely because of the date on the packaging.