It’s not you. Date labels on food make no sense.

It’s not you. Date labels on food make no sense.

Food labels don’t mean what you think they mean.

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When people clean out their fridge, they look at whatever date is on the label and throw it in the trash if it’s past that date. But the chances are that you’re throwing out tons of perfectly good food because date labels on food are often really confusing.

Food labels can mean many different things and often don’t give you any indication of whether the food is safe to eat or not. Many people assume that they’re federally regulated, but baby formula is the only product required to have consistent date labels. For everything else it’s up to the states to decide.

This creates a confusing state-by-state patchwork of labels with everything from “use by” to “freshest before” to “sell by” to “packaged on.”

And all this confusion causes us to waste tons of food every year. All the uneaten food waste costs Americans over $200 billion each year, and two thirds of that comes from households.

If we came up with a unified, easy to understand date label system we could save money, food, and help the environment, all just by changing how we put date labels on the things we eat.

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93 Responses

  1. masterkorzo1 says:

    Or if you live in EU they totaly make sense.

  2. Dank Matter says:

    I had to throw away cheetos because they were stale. I thought it expired but then I noticed a little hole. I hate whoever sabotaged me.

  3. Harshil Patel says:

    There’s a fine line between reducing food waste and being cheap to buy new food. I am 100 percent on the cheap side. I eat everything. Regardless of the label

  4. God says:

    *The real question is, why does sour cream have an expiration date?*

  5. Dio Grando says:

    *Life Hacks:* just write “12/01/3010” on the expiration date on the package with a sharpie and it will last for hella years

  6. Bobbi says:

    Because of that in the whole European Union there is a standardized expiry date.

    • Dear Mr. _-isaiah- deringer;_ says:

      Its not an expiration date. Its shelf life the date up until which the manufacturer gurantees the advertised taste, quality, and food safety provided adequate storage.
      The definiton is standardized but the date is often similar wonky. Products that require cooling can last some days or weeks longer, products that are dry as dust can be good years after their supposed due date. Similar medication for the most part just loses it strength.

    • DragonLord Skater says:

      In Russia too. High five!

    • Marnix Broersma says:

      atur chomicz yeah well it doesn’t affect freedom of the citizens so it’s good

    • Chantal Coolsma says:

      Which isn’t always needed. Years ago a lot of products sold in the EU didn’t have an expiry date. Now people are just trashing good products, because the date has passed. That doesn’t say anything if a product is still eatable/drinkable.

    • Danny Li says:

      Bobbi but they still banned memes

  7. 楊陞 says:

    Fughetaboutit! so cute!

  8. The All-Seeing Eye says:

    *NOTIFICATION SQUAD ANYONE?*

  9. World History With Dan says:

    I don’t deserve love either my friend.

  10. Legendary King says:

    Damn straight! Unless it smells weird and/or looks moldy i throw it away or take that part out and still eat it

    • Mr. Schniggle-Biggs says:

      So true. I feel like many Americans are so privileged when it comes to throwing food away. That they think isn’t that great anymore, and don’t have the time/energy/desire to scavenge what’s still edible. $200 billion a year is lost food is just plain depressing.

    • TheSuckySix says:

      “Us Americans” also have to put up with some pretty low quality of life standards, look up Flint Michigan sometime to get an idea of how little business cares about whether or not people people have to deal with literally poisoned basic needs.

    • Jay Brown says:

      Funny story, move into apartment. Cat sneaks in, eats piece of my frozen ground beef I had on the table. I cut that portion off and still cooked it up!😂 When I told my wife that story, she says I’m disgusting for doing that.😂

    • Mr. Schniggle-Biggs says:

      That’s awesome, good for you ;p

    • Sicksi says:

      Same here… no matter what the date says, I smell it first if it’s something like milk, and if smells bad and/or it’s chunky, I’ll throw it away… otherwise, I’m gonna dig in!

  11. Van Hendrix says:

    Bees don’t have to worry about that. Honey is best at all times

  12. surfie007 says:

    In Australia there’s only 2: “Use By” which is when it is unsafe to consume after that date (mostly seen on dairy products) and “Best Before” which is when the quality of the food is not guaranteed past that day but can be still safe to eat (seen on nearly all food and drinks)

    • Beanie says:

      These dates are still fairly unhelpful for the consumer as they rarely translate to reality. Many food items will be perfectly fine days, weeks, months after their BB and UB dates (depending on the food and how it’s packaged). Conversely, there are foods that frequently spoil before their UB date, such as berries. These dates are there more for the supplier in order to protect them from law suits if someone gets sick from their food. I don’t understand why more people don’t use their senses to check if food is still good rather than seeing it has gone past the UB date and throwing it away.

    • Ni Pr says:

      It’s only the US that have such problems. We (the civilized world so Europe and Australia) don’t have a problem. The whole video is pointless for us.

    • Legally Blind says:

      It’s so simple. I literally thought the world would have the same system as aussie but nope

    • Ni Pr says:

      Legally Blind the world does, just the United States play their special snowflake card

    • ccandsea says:

      Ni Pr It’s not a “special snowflake” thing…. unfortunately, we Americans just like to needlessly complicate EVERYTHING. It’s what happens when a bunch of lawyers found a country.

  13. Doskii says:

    Never knew the US had such a poorly organized system for this. They should maybe just steal Europe’s system where you only have a “Best before:” date (sometimes with just the date and no “best before” text) that simply indicates when it is no longer “guaranteed” to not be expired.

    • BaronZ says:

      The EU standard can be deceiving. Sometimes it states the best taste/food quality date and not the expiration date. e.g. Moist cookies are still edible, they just don’t taste as good.

    • Doskii says:

      I’ve lived in the Netherlands and Sweden and have stayed for periods in Germany and I’ve never in my life seen anything besides “Best before”. Unless they still use the same label but mean different things which would be really stupid 😛

    • Teemu Rantanen says:

      In Finland we have “best before” and “expiration” date. Expiration is used for stuff that can harm you, like meat.

  14. Sebastian Elytron says:

    This reminds me, I need to eat that three days past yogurt.

  15. Theo Pollind says:

    When you like the video but get so much anxiety because the dude is letting out the cold from his fridge 😀

  16. Twiistz says:

    Labels for milk, cheese, bread, and meat are pretty accurate. If you want to eat slimy meat or rocky bread, go ahead. You’re not going to convince me to eat more than week old food. Because that’s how long most food lasts anyways.

    • Twiistz says:

      mirkkuffs Why when bread is $2? And a loaf lasts about a week anyways? I rather eat good tasting bread than brushing my bread with water.

    • Twiistz says:

      Bayava Gaming The taste of cheese goes off after awhile. But sure cheese lasts a bit longer

    • It's Not A Phase, Mom says:

      Twiistz Bread is pretty cheap, but it’s still food, and had resources go into it’s production. Sure, one loaf doesn’t seem like much, but when you have millions of people thinking that way, you have millions of edible loaves of bread thrown away.

    • Twiistz says:

      It’s Not A Phase, Mom Yeah but they don’t sell half loafs. I just don’t get the idea of convincing people that they’re bad for not wanting to eat stale food. I’m sure the average person doesn’t throw away food like that but plans out their grocery list and what day they will eat the bread and how long it will last. It’s not really a problem with the labels, the labels are helpful. It’s people’s attitudes and laziness.

    • Rorolonglegs says:

      btw a minecraft channel here? i am a fan btw but the reason its good eat food even if it cheap is that so it doesnt go tto waste so brush your bread or eat stale bread

  17. Beary Boy says:

    If you have crème fraiche in your fridge long enough to forget what crème fraiche is it’s probably not crème fraiche anymore

  18. CrossfacePanda says:

    Leave it to America to overcomplicate everything, even simple stuff like expiration date labels…

    • Kitterz says:

      CrossfacePanda Yeah, if you leave companies to their own devices here, they will come up with ways for you to waste money and buy more of their product. For example, when I was a teen many shampoo manufacturers put directions on the bottle that told you to wash, rinse, and then repeat. In fact, there’s no real reason to repeat washing your hair except to cause people to buy more of their product. That deceit makes me wonder if that’s the same with food in the US—especially with canned goods.

    • Kenny Martin says:

      Thats what you get when you found a country on the basis of “everyone go and do your own thing mostly, but not entirly!!”
      You get an dysfunctional family that is just together enough to not kill each other.

    • Kitterz says:

      Kenny Martin OMFG, the best description yet! 👍🏼

    • pp rr says:

      Liberals want bigger Government and more taxes. Go figure here.

  19. はゴミですAleks says:

    I just laughed really hard in the office at that ‘forget about it!!! …..*sigh* I don’t deserve love.’ Moment

  20. Vox says:

    Expiration dates aren’t the only confusing part of food packaging. Here’s why the “natural” food label on so many grocery store items is meaningless: http://bit.ly/2K8xtUL

    • wobbly sauce says:

      Talked to people confused by all the different labels before in the US, Australia is simple… Best before and Used by.

      http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/consumer/labelling/dates/Pages/default.aspx
      Use by and best before dates
      (December 2015)

      Date marks give a guide to how long food can be kept before it begins to deteriorate or may become unsafe to eat.
      The two types of date marking are use by dates and best before dates. The food supplier is responsible for placing a use by or best before date on food.

      Foods that must be eaten before a certain time for health or safety reasons should be marked with a use by date. Foods should not be eaten after the use by date and can’t legally be sold after this date because they may pose a health or safety risk.

      Most foods have a best before date. You can still eat foods for a while after the best before date as they should be safe but they may have lost some quality. Foods that have a best before date can legally be sold after that date provided the food is fit for human consumption.

      The only food that can have a different date mark on it is bread, which can be labelled with a baked on or baked for date if its shelf life is less than seven days.

      Foods that have a shelf life of two years or longer, e.g. some canned foods, do not need to be labelled with a best before date. This is because it is difficult to give the consumer an accurate guide as to how long these foods will keep, as they may retain their quality for many years and are likely to be consumed well before they spoil.

      If specific storage conditions are required in order for a product to keep until its best before or use by date, suppliers must include this information on the label, e.g. ‘This yoghurt should be kept refrigerated’.

      You should also follow any directions for use or cooking instructions that the supplier has put on the label.

    • Anonymous says:

      Creme Fresh is Sour Cream, u don’t watch South Park bruh

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