"Best by","Use by","Sell by", What our food is really telling us

blond lady reading food label

In recent reports from the Natural Resources Defense Council and HarvardLawSchool's Food Law and Policy Clinic that the American consumer is wasting millions of pounds of food every year, based on these dated products.

Food dating has never been apart of the FDA requirements except when it comes to infant formula which has caused the start of the confusion on the labels. With no real regulation the food manufacturers and different states can come up with their own laws for different product regulations on every product made. Causing even more confusion!

Well Doug Rauch, the former Trader Joe's President, has come up with an idea to stop this confusion and is opening a store in Massachusetts that sells these "out of date products"

Rauch described the store as a “kind of a hybrid between a grocery store and a restaurant, if you would, because primarily it’s going to take this food in, prep it, cook it [for] what I call speed-scratch cooking.” The prices of the food will “compete with fast food.” Asked if the food is safe to eat, Rauch answered, “Absolutely. As a matter of fact, if you have a product that says ‘sell by Sept. 1’ or ‘Oct. 1’ and, you know, it’s Oct. 2, most customers don’t realize you can eat that.” (source: http://www.triplepundit.com/2013/10/former-trader-joes-president-opens-store-selling-expired-food/)

So what does, "best by", "use by", and "sell by" really mean?

Best by and Use by can be put in the same category and the dates are made by the manufacturer, stating when they think the product is at its peak of ripe/freshness. This date does not actually indicate a spoilage date or mean that the food is automatically "bad" after the date. For example at Kimmie Candy Company, we have a best by date which is dated out 18 months after the product is packaged, and the chocolate does not just magically go bad 18 months and 1 day later. We have consumed ChocoRocks a year or 2 or more after their best by date and they are just as tasty as they were the year before, granted they may not be as "fresh" but tasty non-the-less.

Sell by is truly a tool to help vendors and manufacturers in storing and shelving the products and to help push the products to the consumer at their peak and increase the demand of the product.

What it comes down to is the, "difference between food quality and food safety", Jena Roberts the vice president for businesss development at the food testing firm, National Food Lab states. (Source: http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/19/health/sell-by-dates-waste-food/) Which ultimately lies on the consumer as to what tastes good. Using your own judgment sometimes is the key to consuming!

That is Kimmie Candy's Fun Fact Friday, we hope you have a great weekend and think twice before throwing away "expired" food!