Confusion over “sell by” and “use by” date labels is a major factor. Less than half of consumers can identify what “sell by” labels mean – and less than one quarter can identify what “use by” labels mean.
Most consumers mistakenly believe date labels are safety indicators, which is why 90% report throwing away food once the expiration date arrives.
In reality, almost no food date labels are related to safety. The vast majority are qualityindicators, and reflect the date the companies believes food will be at its peak taste. With only a few exceptions, food will remain wholesome and safe to eat long past its expiration date. But today, consumers and retailers will simply throw it out – and, in fact, some states currently prohibit the sale or donation of past-date food.