• By Jeff Olsen

Mayo Clinic Minute: Understanding Food Date Labels

June 10, 2016

expiration date label on a food itemIf you’re unsure about the meaning of the dates on food labels, you are not alone. A recent study by Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic and its partners confirmed that consumers are confused by date labels.

For example, use-by dates usually refer to food quality and are not safety dates. However, the study found that consumers use these date labels to make decisions about discarding food.

Among the findings:

  • One-third of consumers wrongly think date labels are federally regulated.
  • More than one-third of consumers always discard food close to, or past, the date on the label, and 84 percent do so occasionally.
  • Millennials were more likely than older Americans to view date labels as indicators of food safety.

Congress is considering a national standard in the Food Date Labeling Act. In the meantime, you can save money, while still staying safe, by understanding what food date labels really represent.

In this Mayo Clinic Minute, dietitian Angie Murad decodes the dates and explains that most don't have anything to do with expiration. Jeff Olsen reports. 

Watch: The Mayo Clinic Minute

Journalists: Broadcast-quality video pkg (1:01) is in the downloads. Read the script.

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