GMA Claims Success in Date Guidelines

By Pan Demetrakakes, Senior Editor

Dec 19, 2018

Expiration dates for a wide range of food SKUs now follow only two formats, making them easier to understand, claims the Grocery Manufacturers Association.

The GMA announced that a survey this month showed that its initiative “Best If Clearly Labeled” has led to 87% of food products sold by 43 major processors being marked with dates labeled either “Best If Used By” or “Use By.” The GMA is seeking 100% compliance by the beginning of 2020.

“Best if Used By” is for dates beyond which food may not taste or otherwise perform at peak level but can still be consumed. “Use By” indicates a date after which a perishable product should be discarded.

The “Best If Clearly Labeled” initiative was launched by GMA in conjunction with the Food Marketing Institute in February 2017. The goal was to reduce food waste by eliminating ambiguity about food expiration dates. GMA sought to discourage practices like “Sell By” dates or the use of dates with no context or explanation.

The initiative drew together 25 manufacturers and grocery retailers. The 43 consumer packaged goods companies surveyed by the GMA, representing 39,308 SKUs, reported 87% compliance.