The US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has issued updated information aimed at encouraging food manufacturers and retailers to use a “Best if used by” date label.

With the exception of infant formula, federal regulations do not require product dating. Manufacturers often use “sell by” or “use by” on a voluntary basis. The different phrases can lead to consumer confusion and the disposal of food that is otherwise safe because it is past the date printed on the package.

FSIS is changing its guidance to recommend “Best if used by,” because research has shown that consumers understand it as an indicator of quality, not safety. With an estimated 30 percent of food being lost or wasted at the retail and consumer level, the change is aimed at encouraging consumers not to throw away food just because it is past the date on the package.