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Grocers Want To Know: Does The Label Mean It’s Expired?

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Two major grocery store associations are calling for voluntary guidelines to streamline food expiration labels and are aiming to get all manufacturers and retailers to use the new system by the Summer of 2018.

If all goes as planned, more than a dozen different phrases used to describe food expiration and safety will soon be reduced to just two: “USE BY” and “BEST IF USED BY.”

The Food Marketing Institute and Grocery Manufacturing Association said the new system will end widespread confusion about whether all kinds of products are still good and safe to eat. The grocery industry said Americans trash more than $200 billion in food every year.

“We can help consumers from throwing away food unnecessarily which puts more money in their pocketbook,” said Meghan Stasz with the Grocery Manufacturers Association.

Related: Majority Of Fla. Reps Vote For Ban On State Required GMO Labeling

The “USE BY” label will be reserved for highly perishable products — foods that could make you sick when they go bad.

The other label, “BEST IF USED BY” is for everything else. They’re still safe to eat, but they might not taste as good.

Some shoppers welcomed the simpler system.

“It’s going to give me more information. Right now, I just pick something up that says “SELL BY” but I have no idea its “USE BY,” said shopper Lisa Herrmann.

“I just threw out some salad dressing because it had a date that expired but it didn’t say ‘SELL BY,’ ‘USE BY,’ anything but I threw it out,” said shopper Marilyn Barnell.

Back in December, the USDA asked manufacturers of meat, dairy, and eggs to use just one label “BEST IF USED BY.”

Wednesday’s announcement takes food safety one step further.

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